From Generation to Generation

By Katie Moos

A fresh pot of coffee sat on the warmer. The door squeaked open and a stern, but sweet, “Snooooop” was called out. Grandpa Harley and his Chihuahua, Snoop, were here for their morning coffee, milk bone and a solid attempt to solve the world’s problems.

Harlan M. Van Dyke – Grandpa Harley to me – saw the day that Van Dyke’s Rice Dryer opened in 1930 and eighty-six rice harvests later, he and I agreed that A LOT has changed. To me, Grandpa Harley was someone who offered wisdom and a historic perspective of the tremendous changes that have occurred, not only with our business and industry over the generations. I was able to interview him a while ago to learn more.

Harlan purchased the dryer from his father in 1950 and, a few years later, added a seed facility, feed mill and began selling fertilizer and chemicals.

The original facility at Van Dyke’s Rice Dryer, Inc. had three rice bins, which are still in use today. Those bins held 15,000 hundredweight and could take about 45 loads a day, (on a big day), during the harvest season. Each load held around 100 sacks of rice. The rice came to the dryer in small trucks where it was dried, bagged and sent off to the port.

In 1978, Harlan retired and his son Jim Van Dyke purchased the dryer and began to expand. Today, the dryer houses 1.4 million hundredweight that is dried, stored and shipped all year. In the spring the dryer cleans, soaks and provides seed to farmers in the area and in the fall, receives paddy and seed rice to begin the drying process. It now has the ability to receive upwards of 120 loads a day, each load carrying around 600 sacks, if necessary.

Grandpa Harley passed away last December at the age of 94, leaving a lasting impression on many people in South Sutter County. The 2017 seed and harvest season will not be the same without planning his garden between trucks, chasing Snoop to the golf cart and, pursuing his ambitious ideas. Now a photograph sits atop his favorite chair, where he can continue watching his family build upon the foundation he provided.

From a young age, deep agricultural roots have been instilled in me. Growing up in South Sutter County, the heart of rice country, is a privilege most never see in a lifetime. As a college student studying international agriculture development, my goal is to continue developing agriculture production not only in the United States, but also in countries all over the world. I’m currently attending Sierra College and plan to transfer to UC Davis to finish my studies. I believe that the greatest aspect of agriculture is the ability to learn something new every day, and that is why I am an advocate for agriculture education.