Evaluation of Hermetic Maize Storage for Smallholder Farmers
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Maize is an important crop for many smallholder farmers in the world. Maize weevils (Sitophilus zeamais) cause a significant loss in quality and quantity during maize storage in tropical regions. Hermetic storage of maize has been shown to be effective in controlling maize weevils in laboratory settings. The objective of this research was to test the effectiveness of hermetic storage containers that could be used by smallholder farmers. Six 208-L (55-gallon) steel barrels were filled with 170 kg (375 lb) of maize with initial weevil populations of 25 live weevils/kg of maize (11 live weevils/lb). The barrels were placed in a room at 270C (810F) under non-hermetic condition for three weevil lifecycles of approximately 40 days each. After 120 days, the weevil population increased to an average of 99 live weevils/kg (45 live weevils/lb). Three barrels were then hermetically sealed. After storage for 21 days, the weevil population was zero live weevils/kg in the hermetically sealed barrels (100% mortality) and an average of 214 live weevils/kg (98 live weevils/lb) in the non-hermetic barrels. Means of barrel oxygen content, ending number of live weevils per kg of maize, test weight (TW), moisture content (MC), temperature and humidity were significantly different between the hermetic and non-hermetic storage treatments. Broken corn and foreign material (BCFM) and mechanical damage (MD) were not significantly different. Hermetically sealed metal barrels for maize storage can control maize weevils and may be an effective storage option for smallholder farmers.