Mark Bohnenstiehl and sons Jason and Chad revamped their grain center to speed drying and add storage capacity - and to increase soybean yields.

The Bohnenstiehls, Edwardsville, IL, rotate corn, soybeans and wheat, planting doublecrop beans after the wheat. They like to harvest the wheat 12-13 days early so they can get a jump on soybean planting.

They needed a drying system with more capacity, including the ability to handle very wet wheat. But they faced several problems, including limited space around their existing facilities.

Mark consulted with Larry Unverferth, a Centralia, IL, farm supplier who has a reputation for designing efficient grain handling systems.

The Bohnenstiehls needed a 5,000 bu/day capacity, so their only choice was a grain leg.

To reach all the bins, they decided they needed a 95 foot leg. And not wanting guy wires, they decided on a 90 foot tower. To give it a firm base, a 9 foot-deep pit was dug and 12 inch-thick concrete walls were poured. The pit also serves for auger feeds to the leg.

The Bohnenstiehls had been using a Shivvers dryer and augers to convey the dried grain to bins. They decided to go to a Beard Super B dryer with a 435-bu/hour capacity at 10 points of moisture removal.

The old Shivvers drying bin was converted to a wet-holding bin and equipped with a sweep auger for keeping it clean. Two other bins were expanded to add 10,000 bu of long-term storage capacity.

Dried grain goes into a gravity-flow wagon bed under shelter at the base of the leg. When the bed is full, pressure switches stop the wet grain from entering the leg and start the dry grain moving to permanent storage. When the dryer needs more wet grain, it sends a signal and the grain is delivered.

The leg is driven by single-phase power converted to three-phase. The 20-hp motor turns at 1,800 rpm.

The Bohnenstiehls harvest wheat when the moisture is as high as 43%. The advantage, in addition to earlier soybean planting: the wheat pulls less moisture out of the ground than with later harvesting.

Also, rain often becomes scarce in late June, so planting beans earlier means higher yields, they say.