For almost 20 years, Industrial Metal Fabrication has custom-built all types of drying equipment – from corn to flax to sorghum. But they never designed and then used their own dryers – until now.


Last year, Renee Dalrymple, the owner of IMF and Sheldon and Christian Coleman, of Sunnyland Kansas, met. Both companies have plants just down the street from one another in Newton.


Sunnyland Kansas grows, dries and distributes industrial hemp. They also sell seeds and mentor farmers in this growing, new industry in Kansas.


"They have experience with hemp. We have experience with manufacturing dryers," Dalrymple said. "Together, it’s been a pretty good thing."


Although IMF manufactured all types of dryers for years, they never operated one. In October that changed. In one month, the large-scale hemp dryer known as Lime Rickey dried more than half a million tons of industrial hemp. The product came from farms in Kansas, Oklahoma and Nebraska.


"It (Lime Rickey) increased our capacity dramatically," said Sheldon Coleman. "This is a superior drying system."


Dalrymple formed the company Superior Drying Solutions, which runs Lime Rickey, a machine that can dry 2,000 dry pounds of hemp per hour. The unit that controls the dryer can be adjusted for each shipment. And because cannabinoids are delicate, temperatures cannot go above 120 degrees.


Each crop is different. Some are hand stripped, many use strippers and quite a few use combines.


"This (machine) allows us to customize for each and every crop that comes to us," Coleman said.


In October, Lime Rickey dried more than half a million pounds of wet industrial hemp. According to Coleman, the machine was sometimes running 24 hours a day.


"It’s been a challenge," Dalrymple said. "But it’s been worth it."


Just under 50 industrial hemp growers utilized Sunnyland Kansas to help with their drying. The large producer’s crops went to Lime Rickey, the smaller farms input was dried in the plant’s two smaller dryers – both of which would be considered large by Kansas standards. The smaller dryers dry the cannabinoids at a rate of 500 pounds per hour.


Along with this state-of-the-art drying technique, Sunnyland helps farmers find an outlet for their product and helps them figure out best practices in growing. They also hand dry some of their product.


"Our small farmers were very happy this year," Coleman said. "It was a good year."