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How to Store your Seeds & Grains Correctly

It is important to store your vegetable seeds and grains correctly as this will help maintain their viability and vigor. Seeds are sensitive to climatic conditions such as humidity and moisture. Seeds and grains, that are not suitably stored, will have a decreased chance of germination.

Issues with seed storage

Environmental factors that can destroy seeds are heat, changes to temperature and humidity. Under natural conditions, fluctuating temperatures often allow for seed germination, while constant cool temperatures, like those experienced throughout winter, will allow for the seeds to stay dormant. Seeds should be stored in a cool, dry position to ensure they don’t germinate. Seeds should not be stored in moist or humid conditions as excess moisture levels can lead to germination. Light is another key factor that will affect the lifespan of your stored seeds. It is advisable to block all or most of the light from your storing container.

As our seeds aren’t treated with chemicals, this can result in them being more vulnerable to pest infestation, especially in warmer months as they don’t have chemical residue protecting them. Weevils in particular, can be an issue for some growers as they contaminate seeds, decreasing their germination rate and can survive for long periods. Weevils, unlike many other insects that carry their food, will actually live and breed within their food source. As weevils have a high reproduction rate when they’ve found a suitable place to live, they are found in many packaged foods, whether this be live weevils, parts of them or their eggs. The types that our growers experience are seed weevils, which are found in seeds, especially raw ones and bean weevils, which are found in bean products.

Solutions

Appropriate temperature to store grains

An effective way to mimic seeds and their natural cycle in your own home, is by storing your seeds within an airtight container placed in a drawer in the fridge, that is unaffected when the fridge door is opened. This will imitate their dormant phase through winter, meaning they won’t germinate. Although other growers have suggested freezing seeds, if this is done incorrectly it can kill a number of different varieties of seeds.

How to avoid moisture?

Moisture has a big influence on seed germination.  You’ll need to prevent your seeds from sprouting by storing them in a sufficiently dry, low-humidity environment. Airtight containers are effective in ensuring this. You can add a desiccant, which is a specific product for seed storage, which will sustain dryness within the container.

How to get rid of weevils?

Although weevils aren’t dangerous to ingest, they can cause problems for your seeds and their success. The following suggestions are ways to prevent or rid them from your seeds.

  1. Identify the source of the infestation
    • Check your packaging to find any evidence of larval form. Step 4 shows you what to do if you find evidence of larvae. Freezing will kill the larvae and stop infestation.
  1. Clean your cupboards
    • As these infestations can spread to other foods, it is essential to clean your cupboard thoroughly. It is also useful to store your foods in airtight containers that are impenetrable to all pests.
  1. Bay leaves can be useful deterrents
    • Weevils are deterred when bay leaves are present. Place one leaf within your airtight container.
  1. Freeze your seeds if an infestation occurs
    • If you can, place your grains in the freezer in an airtight container, for a minimum of four days. This will kill eggs present within the produce. Once you remove them from the freezer, ensure they are still kept within the airtight container.
  1. Don’t use pesticides
    • Pesticides will contaminate any food nearby to the area you spray. Although this may seem like a simple solution, it’s best not to use on food products.

Diatomaceous earth

Diatomaceous earth is an effective, organic and non-toxic solution for grain storage. It is used both commercially and by small, private growers as a strong insect deterrent. It’s a good alternative to harsh chemical insecticides while still providing a simple storage solution.

Diatomaceous earth is popular throughout Australia, particularly in dryer regions. It is often distributed as a slurry mixture or as dry dust. It has been certified by the Queensland Government and contains no harmful additives or chemicals. The manufacturing process that DE will go through is milling, crushing, sorting and packaging. It is also sun dried, meaning its safe for grain facilities, farms, gardens and homes. The way DE works is by absorbing the waxy exterior of insects and pests, which will destroy them. DE will continue to remain effective as long as it is kept dry and undisturbed.

However, if using DE ensure you have appropriate protective measures in place as it can irritate the nose, nasal passages and eyes. It also can cause skin irritation or dryness. Although it can cause irritants to humans, there are no known impacts on wildlife or pets.

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