Pest Management for Stored Products
Worldwide, more crop value is lost in storage than in the field. Developing an effective IPM program for your stored crops after harvest can prevent loss of the tremendous cash and labor investment residing in your stored products.
Click the links below for more information on controlling pests from your stored products.
1. Stored Product Pests
2. On-Farm Storage
3. Mills and Processing Plants
4. Distribution and Retail
Stored Product Pests
As with all of IPM, the first step is to identify the pest, learning all you can about its life cycle and habits. Then, develop a strategy to keep losses below unacceptable levels. Insects, molds and vertebrate pests can cause stored food and fiber product losses.
Insects. Beetles, moth and lice are the most common insect pests of stored grain and processed food products. Of the many hundreds of thousands of beetle and moth species, only a few dozen are serious stored product pests. Some insect pests are small enough to feed on the inside of stored grain kernels; others feed on the outside. Stored clothing, rugs and other fabrics can also provide food and shelter for insects.
Molds and rots. Fungi and bacteria are invisible to the naked eye, but under the right conditions, these pests can create an unappetizing feast for both the eyes and nose. Clean and dry storage conditions as well as proper storage temperatures are your best line of defense.
Vertebrates. Rodents, birds and wildlife find stored grains and other food products irresistible. "Rodent-proofing" buildings and storage areas is the best method of dealing with all of these pests. This consists of regular inspection; securing any opening larger than 1/4" in foundations, walls, floors, roofs and eaves; closing up "dead" spaces in walls, ceilings and floors where rodents live and hide; and reinforcing wooden door bottoms, sills and pipe entries with metal sheeting.
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- Clean bins before storing grain. Sweep or vacuum, paying special attention to cracks, crevices and sub-floors. Carefully inspect for and repair any openings that might allow pest entry into bins.
- Remove and destroy or feed to livestock any spilled grain, grain debris or old grain.
- Segregate any feed or seed grain so it will not provide a source of pests to infest newly harvested grains.
- Clean combine before harvesting, or destroy the first few bushels from each harvest, to eliminate carryover pests from previous harvests.
- Store only clean, dry grain. Feed or destroy any grain with unacceptable moisture, mold or insect pest levels.
- Aerate stored grain as soon as possible to reduce temperatures and prevent pest buildup. A delay of one month can result in four to 40 times higher infestation levels by the end of storage.
- Fumigate or apply insecticide to clean bins or to grain as it is being stored only when necessary. Generally, treat only when summer harvested grains will remain in storage for one month or more or when fall harvested grains will be stored through the following May or June.
- Consider spot treatment with the least toxic insecticides when treatment is truly necessary. Bacillus Thuringiensis or diatomaceous earth can be effective treatments in many situations. Check with your local Extension advisor before planning any insecticide program.
- Monitor stored grain on a monthly basis for temperature, moisture and mold, insect or vertebrate pests. Correct unacceptable conditions immediately, or consider selling or feeding deteriorating grain.
Mills and Processing Plants
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- Reject any grain with high infestation levels or unacceptable pesticide residues.
- Use proper sanitation practices to prevent pest buildup.
- Monitor tailings from final sieving for signs of pest infestations. Inform the farmer of any problems immediately so he or she can take corrective action.
- Fumigate stored grain only when regular sampling indicates fumigation is needed.
- Use proper packaging to prevent infestation of finished products in your facility or in transit, all the way through use by the consumer.
Distribution and Retail
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- Inspect all transit, storage and handling facilities. Correct any conditions allowing pest entry, such as non-airtight doors or unscreened windows. Move trash containers away from building entry ways. Be sure all equipment, fixtures, counters and shelving can be readily moved for regular, thorough cleaning.
- Carefully inspect all deliveries and reject any product with signs of infestation or improper handling. Immediately notify suppliers of any problems.
- Rotate all stock to ensure first in, first out.
- Clean up any spilled products immediately.
- Institute a regular monitoring program. Find out which pests are most likely to be a problem, and investigate best monitoring methods for those pests.
- Contract with pest control firms that use and promote IPM practices, not regularly scheduled sprays regardless of conditions.
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- Know that sanitation, including under and behind appliances, counters and other fixtures, can go a long way toward preventing pest problems.
- Use the freezer to store high risk products such as flour or raw grains.
- Transfer high-risk products or contents of damaged packaging to airtight containers.
- Discard any infested products immediately, making sure to seal the packaging so pests can't escape.
- Where clothes moths or Indian meal moths have been a problem, use traps to alert you to their presence.
- Do not call an exterminator for a whole house treatment at the first sign of a pest. Have the pest accurately identified and plan your response accordingly. Most insects entering your home do so inadvertently and will not cause a problem requiring treatment.