DR JEREMY BURGESS / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY DR JEREMY BURGESS / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY
A field of bread wheat, Triticum aestivum, left unharvested following prolonged heavy rain. The plants have a blackened appearance due to incipient fungal infection, and the ground below shows growth of weeds and shed grains from the crop itself (green).Safe storage of seed grains depends upon the water content of the seed being in the range of 12-15% by weight. Grain stored in bulk with a higher moisture content may suffer from the growth of surface micro-organisms, as well as enzymatic activity within the seed itself. Both of these effects can cause heating of the grains, with loss of nutritional quality for food grains and lower germination rates for seed grains. Grains can be artificially dried after harvesting, but in the example shown in this picture, damage was irrevocable, and the crop lost.
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