When rice is harvested from the fields in the fall it must be immediately dried to preserve freshness, prevent spoilage and prepare for the milling process. Although some growers have smaller drying/storage tanks on their farms, most rice is taken to large commercial facilities for processing and storage. In 2000 we joined together with a few other progressive growers to start Ridgetop Warehouse Company. We set about building the most modern plant in the industry, focusing on top quality and fast, efficient movement of rice for maximum harvest time capacity. We succeeded and the plant was opened for the 2001 crop.
Ridgetop was originally intended to service the farms of its owners, but demand from non-owner growers soon became apparent. So our plant became certified as a public warehouse and we opened the doors to our neighbors. Strong demand resulted in expansion in 2005 and again in 2010. Today Ridgetop has a storage capacity of 1.25 million hundredweight (62,500 tons) of paddy rice per year. We can receive approximately 12,000 hundredweight per hour through our three high speed receiving pits. The three drying columns can dry over 50,000 cwt per day when operating at full capacity.
Our investment in Ridgetop has proven to be a successful big step toward our goal of self reliance and vertical integration.