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Moisture Content rule

By Lynette Simango

Harvesting time is upon us and you need to check the moisture content of your pfumvudza maize plot before you harvest the whole crop and put it in storage. This is to avoid fungi development during storage which might spoil the grain so the moisture content should range between 12%-15%. In some cases, there is a loss in quality of yield for example if you harvest your crop at 45% moisture content and you husk the grains to remove moisture before you store. Sometimes it’s better they lose the moisture whilst on the mother crop. In other cases, there is mechanical damage to the grain. So this is why it is important to use the test-before-harvest rule and here is how you do it๐Ÿ‘‡

Farmers with huge pieces of land which might translate to a huge harvest can make use of a moisture meter for accuracy during harvesting and storing but we know it might be a struggle for you to buy the moisture meter just for that backyard farm. Others might make use of oven drying but isn’t that complicated? Here are alternatives

  1. You randomly harvest a cob and you bite the grain/s. If they break into 2, it means the moisture content is now okay for you to harvest but if you bite the grain and it doesn’t break but rather leaves a mark or becomes chewy, it means the moisture content is still high.
  2. You can avoid high moisture content using the salt-test method. Place 160g of maize and 8g of dry salt in a glass or clear plastic bottle and shake for about one-and-a-half minutes. Leave this for five to 15 minutes to settle down. When the salt clings to the walls of the bottle and glass, it means the moisture content is above 15%. In that case, you must consider re-drying of the seeds as soon as possible. (African Agriculture).

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