To ensure grain quality amidst health crisis, Philippine Rice Research Institute of the Department of Agriculture (DA-PhilRice) puts in proper postharvest management as 9th Key Check in its PalayCheck System.
“As dynamic rice crop management system, PalayCheck guides farmers on achieving high yield and improve the quality of their crop. An addition to the eight Key Checks, proper drying, cleaning, and storage after harvest help maintain good grain quality, which are especially important nowadays as consumers need to store food and ensure enough food supply amidst Covid-19 pandemic,” Dr. Ricardo F. Orge, expert from the Rice Engineering and Mechanization Division, said.
The award-winning scientist emphasized that adopting the recommended postharvest management practices can help farmers avoid postharvest losses; producing high-quality rice that has higher market value.
To achieve good grain quality, Orge encourages farmers to dry the palay within 12-14 hours after harvest, until grains’ moisture content is at 12-14%.
“This is important as the quality of palay also affects the quality and shelf life of milled rice,” Orge stressed.
For farmers using mechanical dryers, Orge advised them not to operate beyond 50oC drying air temperature for flatbed dryers or 700C for recirculating dryers. Farmers are also advised to lower drying air temperature to 40-450C during the last 2 hours of drying or when the grain moisture content reaches about 15%.
If mechanical dryers are not available, farmers can also opt to sun dry their palay on a clean concreted pavement, consistently stirring the grains at least once every 30min for uniform drying, and making sure the grains are not rewetted when rain suddenly comes.
After drying, the bagged grains must be placed on top of palettes to protect them from dampness before they undergo grain-cleaning.
“Dried palay grains must be cleaned 2-3 days after harvest to remove impurities like unfilled grains and straw,” Orge said.
In storing palay after cleaning, the expert also reminds farmers to ensure that the storage area is waterproof, has proper aeration, and free from pests such as rats, birds, and insects. Preparing the stack layout plan for sack storage is also recommended to facilitate good storage management practices.
He further emphasized that dried and cleaned grains should not be put together with agricultural chemicals, fertilizers, and cement in the same storage area.
Farmers, he said, should also maintain adequate space between piles, walls, and roof frames, preferably at least one meter.
“Farmers can stack up 6-7 bags per pile, ensuring that the height of stacks does not exceed the height of walls,” he said.
He added that farmers should weekly inspect their storage area to detect early signs of pest infestation, physical damage, or staining caused by water.
PhilRice is the government’s lead agency on rice research and development mandated to help ensure a rice-secure Philippines. With eight stations across the country, its programs and projects are in line with the DA’s “Masaganang Ani, Mataas na Kita” battlecry. For more information about the Institute’s program, queries can be sent thru PhilRice Text Center (0917 111 7423) or email email@example.com.