- Many companies still use improvised propane drying systems that require manually turning berries.
- Saw Palmetto Harvesting Company uses a new automatic drying system that automatically roates berries
When the saw palmetto berries are collected from the plantations, they are picked at the dark orange to fully ripened stage of black. The berries at this time are approximately 66% water and will keep for only a few days without spoiling unless dried.
Our goal is to dry the berries down to 7-8% moisture content within the shortest time possible and with temperatures not exceeding 140F. In years past, our company used tobacco dryers to accomplish this, but the fuel costs were high and the labor was costly.
The Saw Palmetto Harvesting Company has streamlined and industrialized the drying technique to modern day technology.
First the berries are brought in where they are weighed. We can accept the smallest quantities in bags or semi loads in citrus baskets or bulk filled. These are then dumped in a pit where they are automatically transferred to what we call a wet tank. It holds 250,000 lbs. From there the berries automatically go into a stainless steel dryer, that has a capacity of drying 750,000 lbs per day. This one large modern dryer can dry as many berries in one day as 125 tobacco dryers could. When the berries leave the dryer, they automatically go to the blower where they are blown clean of any foreign debris. They then automatically go to steel silos that each contain 250,000 lbs. All of this is automatic and only requires one person to oversee the equipment, as compared to the old method that would have required 100s of laborers.
This method is far superior in that the fatty acids are not as likely to be baked, as compared to the old method where the berries were in dryers at 140F for up to 3 days. Here, the berries are in and out of the dryer within an hour and the oils are not baked and thus extraction times in CO2 and ethanol are considerably less.
With this huge capacity to dry large volumes, our company is happy to quote on contract drying arrangements.
Features of our drying station:
- 6 inch direct connect to the Florida transmission natural gas line
- 1000 amp 460v 3phase electrical service
- capacity to dry: 15 semi loads of berries per day
We are actively soliciting bids for the 2008 drying season.