24 March 2000

Bug rejections reach record

UNPRECEDENTED levels of grain rejections due to insect infestation could cost growers nearly £20m in lost income this season, claims one grain merchant. Careful store monitoring and rigorous pre-harvest cleaning are now vital.

"We are seeing a four or five-fold increase on any previous year," says Richard Whitlock, grain director Banks Agriculture.

Tighter intake standards at mills may be partly to blame for the increase in rejections, he concedes. But mostly it is higher infestation incidence on farm due to difficult conditions last autumn.

Growers happily spend an hour or two walking fields each week, but some are still reluctant to do the same with grain in store, he says. That is essential to nip potential problems in the bud.

"Its a chore, but the grain in store is the most valuable crop on the farm. Too many problems are not discovered until the first load is rejected at the mill."

Controlling a problem spotted early with pitfall traps or temperature probes costs a tenth of the cost of a rejection, he adds. Pre-harvest hygiene will also be key for the coming harvest.