Female farmer with maize crop

Photo Essay: Maize Harvest And Storage

This photo essay takes us through best practice during harvesting of maize.
Food security

At One Acre Fund, we see value not only in teaching our farmers how to improve their planting methods, but also in teaching them how to improve the methods they use to harvest and store their crops.

Poor harvest and storage practices can lead to severe grain loss and counteract much of the hard work that went into planting earlier in the year.

Farmers cutting maize stalks
Farmers in Nyanza cut their maize stalks to begin the harvest process. One Acre Fund then encourages farmers to “stook” their maize.
Maize stalks stacked together in tee-pee like structures
Stooking is the process of leaning maize stalks against each into a tee-pee-like structure. This allows sun and air to dry the maize cobs to help make peeling away the husks easier.
Farmer handling a maize cob
After stooking for a few days or weeks, farmers then snap individual cobs from the stalks and remove the husks.
Female farmer with cobs of maize
We encourage farmers to use the remaining stalks in a compost mix for their fields.
Female farmers collecting and storing maize cobs
Farmers will often further dry their maize cobs in the sun until the kernels feel brittle enough to begin shelling.
Farmer removing kernels from maize cobs
Shelling is when the farmer removes the kernels from the cobs. Farmers sometimes use knives, their hands or round tools called “shellers” for this process.
Farmer shelling maize kernels
One Acre Fund teaches farmers to shell all of their maize before long-term storage.
Farmer storing maize kernels in bags
One Acre Fund then asks farmers to make sure their kernels are completely dry before storing. Many farmers will lay their kernels out in the sun to dry for a few days following shelling. By completely drying the kernels, farmers are less like to lose grains to rot and the carcinogenic toxin alfatoxin, which is produced by fungi, is less likely to form.
Female farmer storing maize in sealed sacks
We then encourage farmers to store their maize kernels in sealed sacks to prevent rodents and weevils from attacking the grains.

One Acre Fund recommends storing sacks of grain off the floor and away from the wall to prevent pests, and finally, we stress the importance of waiting to sell maize until the market price is high if a farm family has the flexibility to do so.