Poster: Biology & Disease Mgmt: Postharvest Pathology & Mycotoxins
Assessment of hermetic storage of maize under different environmental conditions
B. LANE (1), C. Woloshuk (1) (1) Purdue University, U.S.A.
Storage of maize is a significant challenge for farmers in developing countries. Fungal growth and mycotoxin accumulation are some of the leading causes of postharvest losses, which are estimated to be $4 billion annually in the Sub-Sahara. One of the largest postharvest threats is the growth of Aspergillus flavus and the accumulation of aflatoxin. As maize production in Africa continues to grow, so does the need for storage methods that will help mitigate postharvest losses. This study investigated the use of Purdue Improved Crop Storage (PICS) bags, a three-layer hermetic-storage system, for the prevention of grain rewetting in humid environments in order to mitigate fungal growth and aflatoxin accumulation. Maize (14% grain moisture) was stored in PICS and woven polypropylene bags in Indiana and Arkansas, two environments contrasting in temperature and relative humidity. After 3 months of summer storage, moisture in the woven bags increased significantly in both environments (as high as 15.9%). Populations of storage insects and fungi also increased in the woven bags, with the greatest change under the Arkansas environment. In contrast, grain in the PICS bags was not affected by the two environments; grain moisture remained unchanged, there were no storage insects, and fungal populations increased only slightly. These results provide evidence that PICS bags can be used for the safe storage of maize in the highly-variable environment of Sub-Saharan Africa.