It is important for the individuals responsible for growing, buying, storing, handling, and processing wheat to know the handling systems in the elevator. Storage facilities, handling system, and atmospheric conditions such as the grams of moisture per cubic meter of air outside and within the storage facility can significantly affect the quality and value of the wheat.
Wheat grading systems reflect damage to wheat that occurs during storage and handling. Unsuitable mechanical equipment can cause changes in quality such as an increase in kernel breakage and the amount of fine dust in the wheat. Mold growth creates a penetrating and residual musty odor that is a concern in wheat grading; accordingly, such wheat is designated smutty. Heat damage results from conditions that develop during storage. According to the U.S. grading system, more than 0.2% heat damaged kernels degrade wheat to No. 3. Such physical, chemical, and biological changes in wheat quality can be avoided if conditions during storage and handling are properly controlled.
Wheat is an important raw material for human food consumption because it can retain good quality from one harvest to the next. Over many centuries, storage systems progressed from the keeping of small amounts of harvested grain in underground pits to storing hundreds of thousands of bushels in concrete bins. The main objective centuries ago was to maintain good quality of grain until the next harvest. In modern times, storage of grain over two or three harvest periods is not uncommon, even in locations with unfavorable climate.
Flour mills located close to wheat-growing areas have exceptionally large storage capacity for harvested wheat. Such mills receive large quantities of wheat during the annual harvest period and usually are technically designed to handle these amounts. Identity-known wheat are accepted,segregated, and kept in optimal storage facilities until usage. The decision to accept the newly harvested wheat directly from the farmer involves significant economic and technical considerations. The costs of wheat, storage, and year-round delivery can and should be quantified before such a decision is made.
Around the world, harvest starts in October in Australia and Argentina and ends in October of the following calendar year in northern hemisphere countries such as Iran. The harvest accrues during the summer or end of summer in the respective countries, when conditions are optimal for insect and mold growth. Not all countries have favorable climatic conditions for storage year-round. Therefore, it is important to apply measures for preserving wheat quality in unfavorable climates.