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Jun 08, 2022 View:

Grain supply pests and pesticides

About two weeks ago, we had some organic corn come to us that was infected with lesser grain borers. Since it's almost harvest here, we were at the end of a grain bin and July and August are notorious for weevils. We brought in a few too many pallets and the bugs were only in 1-2 pallets and, unfortunately, we found out a bit too late. Pretty much over one weekend, they started to spread around the distillery. Once we found out, we quickly discarded the grain (actually, a local farmer had no problem taking it), cleaned EVERYTHING and spread food grade diatomaceous earth around our other grain, around the walls, etc. Luckily, we seemed to have stopped an infestation and haven't seen any critters since.

Recent shipments from other suppliers have recently been rejected due to a grain weevil or two as well. 3-4 sources are all fighting the same issue with damp, hot weather and the end of the harvest. I just can't accept it for fear of another problem.

I know that bugs must be source of problems for everyone. I thought I would post a few questions here:

1. What are you doing to make sure your grain supply is consistent and pest free?

2. We use mostly organic grain. But for those that aren't using organic grain, what do you to insure grain from your farmer isn't loaded with pesticides? Surely folks buying grain from co-ops or local farmers must have these issues, right? The cost of organic grain is getting really high and I wonder if it's worth it. But I surely don't want to be putting pesticides in my product.

3. For us, a broom, a vacuum, and a mop seem to be the most effective ways to limit our pest control, but I'm just wondering about other procedures.

We aren't using any grain that has weevils or pests of any kind, but that grain has got to be going to flour mills, etc and being consumed by the general population. Seems a bit odd to me.

Just looking for some personal experience and SOP to put in place for grain receipt.

Thanks

John


Reply:

As a point of information, "organic" doesn't mean there are no pesticides. Rather, it means that "approved organic" pesticides may be used. These are apparently used in much larger quantities than the non-organic pesticides, as they are less effective. So thanks to the way the rules are formulated, you may not be getting pesticide-free grain.

Re: pests in general consumption grain. The FDA doesn't forbid the presence of insects or insect parts; they just set certain maximum amounts. Or so I've heard; I don't have a cite on that, but I believe it's correct.


Reply:

As a point of information, "organic" doesn't mean there are no pesticides. Rather, it means that "approved organic" pesticides may be used. These are apparently used in much larger quantities than the non-organic pesticides, as they are less effective. So thanks to the way the rules are formulated, you may not be getting pesticide-free grain.

Re: pests in general consumption grain. The FDA doesn't forbid the presence of insects or insect parts; they just set certain maximum amounts. Or so I've heard; I don't have a cite on that, but I believe it's correct.


Reply:

We are a certified organic distillery (NASSA and IFOAM). As a result we have to ensure the complete end to end tracability of all our ingredianets are Organic. Hence we only buy grain from other certified organic growers and millers. Not being able to gas the grain to kill the bugs, pest are not uncommon.

We have a separate receiving room, where all inward ingredients are quaranteend until we confirm they are to standard. We operate strict quaranteen controls between this room and the main facility including boot wash pan, air flow into the room, slef cloing doors, plastic pallets that are cleaned, separate protective clothing (boots, dust coats, gloves) for the area.

If we find a badly infected arrival, we wrap it and place it outside. We have never had an unwanted bug in the main facility. We hold 2 months of grain in quaranteen, batches a month a piece. Although our suppliers are certified, we send a sample to a lab for every batch, releasing to the facility only when passed.

We do sample check onsite the inward ingredients for pesticides/herbicides and perservatives. We use a Hatch colourmetric test kit (abo us$3 per test), and a photospectrometer (got on eBay for $600). Organic status in Australia is now well regulated and abuse is rare. We mainly use wheat wich is more resiliant to bugs, but often gets fungals. Corn is a expensive comodity here, so we do not use it much.

Our Bigest problem has been the plasticisers used in the poly stretch wrap on the pallets, leaching into the grain. With the heat in our summer, a pallet sitting in the sun at a truck stop, can get to 60C. They are hard to detect without a GC/MS.


Reply:

WOW, thanks for the info Rich.

My guess is that most small guys aren't testing for pesticides/herbicides.


Reply:

No, most small guys aren't testing for pesticides, but there are advantages to purchasing cleaned and graded grains where there's a bit of liability and responsibility attached to the seller. Farmers can't really do that on a smaller scale. Buying local is great, but it comes at the price of your shop having to increase testing and sampling. Get a grain sampler and check anything and everything that comes into your shop. Sounds obvious, I guess, but that's your best course.


Reply:

Thanks Todd.


Reply:

As a point of information, "organic" doesn't mean there are no pesticides. Rather, it means that "approved organic" pesticides may be used. These are apparently used in much larger quantities than the non-organic pesticides, as they are less effective. So thanks to the way the rules are formulated, you may not be getting pesticide-free grain.

Re: pests in general consumption grain. The FDA doesn't forbid the presence of insects or insect parts; they just set certain maximum amounts. Or so I've heard; I don't have a cite on that, but I believe it's correct.


Reply:

I don't think that I'd worry about hyrdogen peroxide - it works by quickly breaking down into oxygen and water. By the time you work with the grain, it would be long gone.

Don't know about the vegetable oil, but I guess any grain you're handling will contain its own natural vegetable oil anyway.