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The effect of delayed harvest on moisture content, insect damage, moulds and aflatoxin contamination of maize in Mayuge district of Uganda
- Kaaya, A.N., Warren, H.L., Kyamanywa, S., Kyamuhangire, W.
- Journal of the science of food and agriculture 2005 v.85 no.15 pp. 2595-2599
- water content, Zea mays, corn, crop production, harvest date, crop damage, insect pests, microbial contamination, fungi, molds (fungi), aflatoxins, food contamination, Uganda
- Field drying is a traditional practice carried out by farmers in Uganda and it is one of those practices reported to affect the postharvest quality of maize. A study was therefore conducted to establish the effects of delayed harvest on moisture content, insect damage, moulds and aflatoxin contamination of maize in Mayuge district. Sixteen farmers were selected from Bayitambogwe sub-county, eight from each of the villages of Bugodi and Musita. Maize was sampled from each farmer's field in 2003B and 2004A seasons at harvest stages of physiological maturity and after delayed harvest for 1, 2, 3 and 4 weeks. Each sample was analysed for mould incidence, moisture content, insect damage and aflatoxin contamination. In each season, mould incidence, insect damage and aflatoxin levels significantly (P < 0.05) increased with delayed time of harvest. Moisture content reduced with delayed harvest time but the maize did not dry to the required safe storage moisture content of less than or equal to 15%. Seasonal effects were only significant for moisture content: the 2003B crop had consistently lower moisture content than 2004A crop. These results indicate that, for improved harvest quality of maize, farmers should harvest no later than 3 weeks after maize has attained physiological maturity.