This means that farmers who want to save their maize will have to harvest early before the crop has completely dried in the field as they have done before. All maize should have a moisture content of 13.5 per cent before it can be stored. It is very difficult for farmers to attain this moisture level especially when they harvest while it is raining. Besides, most of the people in the rural areas may not be able acquire a moisture metre to check moisture levels during storage.
Farmers can use a simple method to check if their maize is dry enough for storage by the use of an empty soda bottle and some salt:
• After drying your maize, put a handful of maize grains and ½ handful of common table salt in dry soda bottle.
• Shake the bottle for 2 to 3 minutes. Allow the grains to settle at the bottom of the bottle. If the salt sticks onto the walls of the bottle, this is a sign that the maize has not dried well enough for storage.
• Dry the maize again and repeat the test until no salt sticks on sides of the bottle. The maize can then be stored and there is no danger of it developing mould (or aflatoxins) during storage.