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Postharvest Losses due to Harvesting Operations in Developing Countries: A Review

Published by the American Society of Agricultural and Biological Engineers, St. Joseph, Michigan

Citation:  2015 ASABE Annual International Meeting  152176663.(doi:10.13031/aim.20152176663)
Authors:   Marvin R Paulsen, Prasanta K Kalita, Kent D Rausch
Keywords:   Postharvest losses, harvesting losses, harvesting, combine harvesters, losses, threshing, cutting, cleaning, grain, oilseeds, soybeans, rice, wheat, maize, cowpeas, chickpeas, millets, developing countries

Abstract. Harvest operations in developing countries were studied to understand how they contribute to overall postharvest losses. The speed of manual cutting operations risks significant crop loss due to delayed harvesting in developing countries. When harvest is delayed, shatter loss is the most-often mentioned cause of losses. Estimates of harvest losses range from 5 to 16% for rice and 8 to 18% for a range of different cereal crops. All of the cereal, oilseed and pulse crops have a narrow range of moistures for optimally-low harvest losses and high crop quality. The optimal moisture for harvest of all crops is nearly always too high to allow safe storage.

Increased harvest mechanization can enable more timely harvest with lower losses, and would likely create a gender shift in harvest workers. Training is essential for developing mechanized harvest operator skills.

Most non-mechanized threshing/ cleaning systems have an inadequate means for separation/ cleaning and containment of harvested grains, oilseeds, and pulses. Threshing, separating and cleaning losses for well-trained combine operators can be very low, rice 0.3%, maize 0.4%, soybeans 0.75 - 1%, and wheat 1% of yield or less. Losses will go higher when the header is included but in general, rice should be less than 1.25 - 2.2%, maize less than 1.8%, soybeans less than 3%, and wheat less than 2% of yield in good standing crop.

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