Maize shall be harvested after planting for at least 110 days in the rainy season and 120 days in the dry season, or at harvesting stage suitable for the variety. In addition, the appropriate harvesting stage could be considered when 80% to 90% of maize leaves in the plot are dry, or when maize kernels are at full maturity.
The harvesting stage can be observed from the forming of black layer at the base of maize kernel which appears as a tiny black spot indicating that the maize reaches physiological maturity and the accumulation of total dry matters in maize kernels is stopped, which the dry weight becomes maximum in this period.
In case of harvesting at the required moisture content, a measurement tool should be used to ensure the accurate moisture content. The appropriate moisture content required for harvesting shall not exceed 30%. However, harvesting when the moisture content is less than 25% would result in maize kernels of quality with less damage from threshing and lower risk from aflatoxin contamination.
Labour harvesting is the most convenient and popular method. Maize ears can be removed from the plants by hand with or without husking. Husked maize ears shall be harvested by using a wooden stick with sharp end to pierce and carefully cut the ear’s tip and try not to damage the kernels so that the husk can be removed from the ear. Afterwards, the husked maize ears are put into the basket or piled up on the ground or floor with supporting material, and not piled up directly on the damp ground. The husked maize ears shall not be thrown in order to prevent damage or cracking of the kernels since the damaged kernels will subsequently enhance fungal damage. On the other hand, the unhusked maize ears shall be harvested and stored. This harvesting method can be done quickly and help prevent the kernels from damage or cracking during harvest and transportation. When harvesting with the moisture content of kernels, not exceeding 30%, the husks can help prevent the kernels from fungal and insect damages.
When harvesting by a corn snapper, the moisture content of kernels shall not exceed 30%. When harvesting by a combine harvester, maize ears and kernels may be damaged, which is subsequently prone to fungal damage. Therefore, this harvesting method should be carried out when the moisture content of kernels does not exceed 22%.
Culling of damaged maize ears Damaged ears, i.e., maize ears that contain kernels which are germinated, damaged by fungi, insects and other pests, or maize ears with abnormal colour and odour shall be culled from good-quality maize ears as much as possible during harvest in order to reduce the damage of the produce. This practice can result in maize with good or best.
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