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Post harvest physical losses: A reality check

Somebody's loss may be somebody's gain.

The first HYV shattered easily and had short dormancy periods. Delays in harvesting caused significant losses. The wet harvested crop must be stabilized by immediate threshing and drying or it will germinate, discolour or rot. Stacking the wet harvest in the field will result in yellow kernels. Post-harvest losses are inevitable; the question is what can be economically prevented? In some countries physical losses from field operations are almost nil. In Bangladesh, gleaners pick-up every bit of grain found in the field after the main harvest is complete. Ducks are released in the fields of the Philippines and Indonesia to feed on the left over grain. In general, manual harvesting has lower loss levels than harvesting with machines. It is estimated that 10% of the grain is left in the field by the Thai combine. However' if harvesting is delayed for lack of labour, then higher losses will occur due to the shattering and fissuring of overripe grain. Manual threshing by trampling or beating does not cause losses; But as farm labour becomes scarce, reaping and threshing machines or combines will be used. A trade-off must be made between the need to mechanize and the higher level of losses produced by machines.

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