University of Arkansas, Fayetteville Division of Agriculture


Rice, Drying, Grain Bins, Arkansas, Storage, Farming


Globally, rice producers are faced with the temporal problem of deciding the optimal time to harvest rice. When harvested, paddy rice is typically at a harvest moisture content (HMC) between 15% and 22% and subsequently dried by the mill to a moisture content (MC) of 12.5%. Riceland Foods Inc., the largest miller of rice in the world, uses a stair-step pricing model to charge farmers to dry, which can complicate the timing of harvest as producers try to balance the tradeoff of minimizing drying costs by waiting to harvest at lower HMC vs. maintaining higher rice quality typically observed when harvesting at higher HMC. This study estimates the costs of on-farm drying as an alternative to commercial drying. This study estimates the total fixed and operating costs using current building, operating, insurance, and financing costs to establish and run an on-farm rice drying and storage facility with capacities between 1,750 and 7,000 m3 for varying farm sizes (acres grown and yield observed), while drying from a simulated HMC range of 16% to 23%. A cost/benefit analysis compares on-farm operating costs to the current Riceland drying costs. This study finds an average savings of $16.38/ton within the simulated HMC range once payback has occurred. Payback periods when drying at full capacity ranged from 7.52 to 12.26 years, where the larger capacity systems had shorter payback periods compared to the smaller systems. The results of this study can provide rice farmers with important information when considering on-farm drying and storage systems in the Mississippi Delta region.