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Bulking Could Reduce Post-harvest Losses

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Post-harvest handling is an integral part of the food production system and are increasingly being promoted countrywide.

This is because harvest time is the most critical stage in crop production. If not handled well, it leads to poor quality of the produce, especially for grains like maize.

Poor quality of the crop affects its market on both regional and international levels.

To minimise such losses, farmers should embrace a post-harvest system called bulking.

Bulking is a post-harvest method in farming that involves evacuation of the grain from the farmer’s fields to some kind of first or primary storage.

This is because harvest time is the most critical stage, where most of the quality of the grain deteriorates.

Bulking involves shelling of the crop and checking the moisture content in the initial sessions of drying.

If the harvest season is not well-handled, the quality of the crop is compromised.

Therefore, grain farmers in Uganda need to be helped on how they can evacuate their grain from the field to a safe grains storage.

A good grain storage should be well-ventilated, have simple pallets at the correct moisture content and should be kept in good condition, where pests and diseases cannot access them.

There are many simple steps farmers can follow to get safe storage for their grains. One of them is granaries or cribs or simple drying yards like cemented floors, where one can dry the harvested grain.

Investing in simple items like a tarpaulin for drying the grains like maize and wheat, could be ideal because it would also shield the grain from hazards like rain.

Farmers could also invest in a cleaning mesh, which is made using pieces of wood and mesh in between to separate the grain from dirt, foreign matter or broken grain that could have got into the grain during processing, harvesting and transporting to the store.

Most of the studies that have been conducted have placed the percentage loss due to poor post-harvest handling at 40%.

This means that per 100kg a farmer harvests, one ends up with 60% of good grain.

Barley growing tip

Barley lodging refers to the collapse of the barley stem as a result of failure to support its own weight of kernels.

It is a phenomenon most cereal crop varieties are susceptible to in varying degrees.

Types of lodging

Root lodging: Occurs early in the season and it is the most common type of lodging.

Stem failure: Occurs later in the season as the stalk becomes more brittle due to crop maturation.

Lodging is costly due to its effects on grain formation and the associated harvesting problems and losses.

It takes about twice the time to harvest a lodged crop than a standing one.

Growth, in combination with a flattened crop, makes harvesting difficult and can subsequently lead to poor grain quality and low yields.

Effective prevention requires knowledge of potential causes. Lodging occurs when gravity pulling the crop to the ground is greater than the counter forces from the stem structure that maintain the upright position.

Failure will normally occur at the weakest point.

Causes of lodging

Over-tall or over-heavy stems. This may be caused by excess nitrogen fertilizers.

Thin weak-walled stems are highly susceptible

Management of lodging should be focused on matching varieties to the correct site and the soil fertility.

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