Safe storage of maize in alternative hermetic containers
This article in the Journal of Stored Products Research evaluated plastic bottles, which may be hermetically sealed, for storing maize grain. Purdue Improved Crop Storage (PICS) bags have been developed and extended as a way to address grain storage issues faced by smallholder farmers in developing nations. A hermetic technology, PICS bags reduce insect damage to grain significantly while maintaining its quality for many months or longer. Farmers with varying and often small volumes of grain at harvest, may still benefit from alternatives to PICS bags for storing their grain. Therefore, this study evaluates plastic bottles as an alternative to PICS bags. Clean maize grain was stored for eight months in sealed and unsealed plastic bottles with half of these bottles being infested by maize weevil. Oxygen levels in the bottles were monitored throughout the trial and grain was assessed for moisture content, insect damage, germination rate and insect population size when the study was terminated. The results show that sealed bottles preserved grain quality significantly better than unsealed, infested bottles and as well as non-infested unsealed containers. Plastic soda bottles can be used as hermetic containers for safely storing grain.