Successful Wheat Storage, Bulk Natural Foods

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Successful Wheat Storage

How to Properly Store Bulk Wheat

Bulk wheat storage requires a little bit of planning, but it is one of the wisest things you can do to save money on your groceries, and be prepared in case of an emergency. Wheat is loaded with nutrients, including fiber, vitamin E, protein, calcium, niacin, manganese, and riboflavin, and there are many different ways to prepare it. Mill whole wheat flour yourself for the most nutritious homemade bread possible. Or cook wheat berries in soups and casseroles. You can even sprout wheat berries and eat them as a vegetable to add some extra vitamin C to your diet.

The Best Storage Containers for Bulk Wheat

When stored properly, wheat can easily last six to eight years or more, without losing any of its nutritional benefits. The trick to wheat storage (and the storage of any bulk grain for that matter) is to keep out the oxygen, keep it cool and keep it dry. So the very best way to store bulk wheat is to buy it in pre-sealed plastic storage pails. These pails are sealed with oxygen absorbers inside, and will keep your wheat fresh for more than 6 years.

If you can’t buy pre-sealed storage pails, the next best choice is to buy food-grade storage pails for your wheat. The pails you can buy from paint supply stores are not food-grade, so don’t use them unless you line them with a food-grade mylar bag first. Another option, if you’re willing to do a little scouting and scrubbing, is to ask your local bakery for their empty icing pails. They’ll often give them away for free.

Don’t store wheat in cardboard boxes, since they are likely to allow moisture inside and encourage mold growth.

A Storage Room or Pantry

Ideally, the room you use for wheat storage should be no warmer than 65 degrees, at least most of the time. But since most of us don’t have a room that cool, be sure to write the date on your pails so you can use up the oldest wheat first, and replace your storage supply as it dwindles.

If you keep your wheat in a basement or outbuilding, set the pails on pallets or boards to avoid direct contact with concrete and increase circulation.

Technical Stuff

For optimal storage, the protein content of wheat should be at least 13%, and the moisture content should be 10% or less. This inhibits bacteria, mold growth, and insect infestation.

Preventing Insects in Stored Wheat

Although you can’t see them, insect eggs are present in wheat and other grains; albeit to a lesser degree if the grains have been cleaned, but either way, it’s important to protect your wheat from being eaten by the hatchlings. There are a number of ways to do this:

Pre-sealed storage pails: If you buy your wheat in pre-sealed storage pails, you won’t need to worry about bugs since there is no available oxygen inside the pails. However, you do need to use your wheat within a year or so after breaking the seal, or insects may begin to be a problem.

Oxygen Absorbers: Adding oxygen absorbers to a pail of wheat is one of the easiest and most effective ways to store wheat. Here’s how to do it.

1. Assemble all the pails you’ll be filling with grain and the grain itself. Once you open your package of oxygen absorbers, you’ll need to use them all within about 15-20 minutes because they start working as soon as you open the packaging. If you will have extra oxygen absorbers, you can store them in a glass mason jar with a tight fitting lid and use them later.

2. Label each pail.

3. Next, you’ll need to figure out how many oxygen absorbers to add. This is calculated based on the volume of the pail and the size of the pieces you’ll be storing (i.e. small, dense grains like wheat or larger beans). For storing wheat, here’s what you’ll need for each pail:

For a 6 gallon pail of wheat, use 1,000 to 2,000 cubic centimeters (cc) of oxygen absorber packets.

For a 5 gallon pail of wheat, use 1,000 to 1,500 cc of oxygen absorber packets.

For storing beans, which are less dense and have more air space between them, double these amounts.

Don’t be afraid to use a bit more than the recommended amounts of cc’s, but do not use less.

4. Put approximately half the oxygen absorber packets you’ll use for each pail into the bottom of each pail. Then fill the pail about half way. Now add the rest of the oxygen absorber packets and fill the pails with grain leaving about an inch of space at the top. Fasten the lid on and you’re done.

Bake It: Spread the wheat out on a cookie sheet and bake in an oven at 150 degrees for about 30 minutes. This will destroy all insect eggs, but it may also prevent your wheat from sprouting.

Dry Ice: Dry ice works by replacing the oxygen in your storage pail with CO2, which doesn’t support insect life. Place ¼ pound of dry ice in the bottom of a 5 gallon storage pail. Fill the pail ¾ full of wheat and set the lid on the pail, but don’t seal it. Keep the pail away from drafts so that the CO2, which is heavier than air, stays in the container. After about 2 hours, when you’re sure the dry ice has sublimated (melted), seal the pail.

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Freeze It: It is not necessary to freeze whole grain wheat to keep it fresh, but freezing will keep any insects from hatching. Wheat stored in Ziplock bags in the freezer will remain bug free indefinitely.

Diatomaceous Earth: This stuff is great. We think it is the one of the easiest and most effective methods for grain storage. Diatomaceous earth is made up of single celled algae. It is not harmful to humans, but it does kill bugs. It literally scrapes the bug to death on contact. It sounds gross, but the bugs are so small, you won’t notice them anyway, and this is an easy, organic, and harmless way to ensure that they don’t eat your wheat.

Add one and a quarter cups of diatomaceous earth to each 5 gallon storage pail of wheat. Seal the lid, and roll the pail around to distribute the dust. It is not necessary to wash the wheat before you use it – diatomaceous earth isn’t harmful to humans, although you do want to be careful not to inhale it. Actually, a little diatomaceous earth will help rid your body of parasites.

Any one of these easy techniques will keep your wheat safe and bug free for years to come and ensure successful wheat storage!

Species Page

wheat thrips

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Host plants / species affected

Main hosts

List of symptoms / signs


The leaves of wheat are sucked by H. tritici adults, causing streaks. The ripening seeds of wheat are sucked by H. tritici nymphs, leaving brown spots caused by the destruction of the pericarpal cells. These brown spots may appear on the wheat germ or on the back or in the furrow of the grain ( Bournier and Bernaux, 1971 ; Han and Xu, 1982 ).

Prevention and control

Cultural Control

Deep ploughing (to a depth of about 25 cm) after spring wheat harvest or after one shallow ploughing, is an effective method of controlling the population of H. tritici nymphs overwintering in the soil and may reduced numbers by 83.9-92.7% ( Han and Xu, 1982 ).

In China and the former USSR, crop rotation is practised. The abundance of wheat thrips was 2-4 times lower in rotation crops than in monocultures ( Antorenko, 1983 ).

Lower densities of H. tritici were recorded in winter wheat fertilized with nitrogen alone or with a mixture of nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium ( Krasilovets and Sem’yanov, 1981 ).

Host-Plant Resistance

Varieties of wheat in which the last stage of booting or the initial stage of heading is earlier than the peak occurrence of H. tritici adults should be selected ( Han and Xu, 1982 ). Krasilovets and Rabinovich (1979) reported that late winter wheat varieties were 2-4 times more infested than early varieties. Shurovenkov and Mikhailovna (1975) reported that the degree of damage by H. tritici to the grain was greatly affected by the length of the growth period, especially the length of time between milk ripeness and complete ripeness. Information was provided showing that late winter wheat varieties were 2-4 times more infested by H. tritici than early varieties in Ukraine ( Krasilovets and Rabinovich, 1979 ).

In Bulgaria, research showed that the wheat varieties which had a shorter vegetation period were attacked to lower degrees and showed lower loss than wheats that matured later ( Veselinov, 1976 ). A close relation was found between the closeness of the ears and the degree of damage. Ears with a close structure, having little space between the scales, were less heavily infested than ears with a more open structure ( Shurovenkov and Mikhailova, 1978 ). When selecting wheat varieties resistant to H. tritici, hard glumules, tightly covering the developing caryopsis and compact ears are characteristics which should be sought.

Bournier and Bernaux (1971) found that H. tritici caused less damage to the grains of hard wheats. The damage caused in the furrow, produced when the wheat thrips penetrate beneath the glumules and puncture the cells of the pericarp during the milky stage of ripeness, is the most important. The selection of varieties of hard wheat with characteristics that prevent H. tritici from penetrating under the glumules appears to be the most promising way of preventing this type of damage.

Biological Control

The effect of natural enemies on field populations of H. tritici is rarely noticed because usually only a small proportion of each population is attacked.

Dyadechko et al. (1971) reported that two predators, Aeolothrips intermedius and Paratinus femoralis were frequently used in reducing numbers of H. tritici eggs and nymphs in Ukraine. In Kiev, Russia, H. tritici is only 4-5 times as numerous as Aeolothrips intermidius. At this ratio of host to predator, marked damage to crops does not occur and other control measures may be unnecessary.

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Lewis (1973) indicated that most effective H. tritici natural enemies attack the nymphs and eggs.

Field Monitoring and Economic Thresholds

Nefedov (1948) estimated the degree of injury to spring wheat by comparing the weight of 1000 grains of different samples with different thrips populations infesting them. The weight of 1000 grains of the sample containing the minimum population of thrips nymphs served as his standard of comparison. The examination was done at the end of the milk stage or the beginning of the wax-ripe stage of spring wheat.

Tanskii (1958) took the following symptoms as indicators of the degree of grain infestation: weak infestation — imperceptible widening of the furrows of the grain only in the region of the beard and the presence of brown patches; medium infestation — deepening and widening of all furrows, brown coloration in their depths and bright areas noticeable in the places punctured by the nymphs; severe infestation — grain deformed and a considerable part of the outer covering bright in colour, due to punctures made by nymphs, in addition to the distension and deepening of furrows; very severe infestation — grain underdeveloped and undersized with deep wrinkles and folds.

Taking into consideration the difference between the weight of uninfested grains and that of grains with different degrees of infestation, estimates of total grain loss have been made. According to data obtained by Tanskii the loss in weight with a very mild infestation amounted to 5.6-7.0% and with a severe infestation, 15.9-31.6%. This method of estimating the damage done by thrips to grain crops gave low values since relatively uninfested grains were used as control and the damage caused by the insects until the grain ripened was not taken into consideration. A study of the damage to crops by thrips under the natural conditions prevailing in southern Ukraine was carried on for four years. The results revealed a certain relationship between the number of thrips entering an ear at the stage of blooming and the consequent loss of grain weight. It was shown that when the average number of adult thrips per ear were 3-6, 7.2-12.6, 13.1-19.7, 20.2-29.8, 30.6-41, then the loss of grain weight in percentage terms were 3.4-6.7, 7.2-9.4, 9.8-14.3, 14.5-24.5, 25.1-30.7%, respectively. The ratios between them were about 1:0.7-1.4:1 ( Dyadechko, 1964 ).

In the Saratov region of the former USSR, during 1978-1980, tests were carried out in irrigated wheat fields to determine the injuriousness of H. tritici and the threshold of numbers at which this became evident. The results indicated that the danger from nymphs was not very high, though it was increased in the dry season of 1980. A threshold of 80 individuals per ear was established for spring wheat and this was seldom exceeded. Chemical treatment might be envisaged in some cases, but never later than the period of milky ripeness ( Kamechenko, 1982 , 1988).

A field study carried out in China in 1962 during the growth stages of winter wheat and spring wheat showed that from early May to early June, the number of adults at the last stage of booting or the initial heading stage, the number of eggs at flower stage and the number of nymphs at milk stage on winter wheat were 3.8, 36.2 and 14.5 per ear, respectively. The ratios among the adults, eggs and nymphs were 1:9.5:3.8. The number of adults, eggs and nymphs on spring wheat were 19.05, 104.44 and 81.98 per ear, respectively and the ratios among adults, eggs and nymphs were 1:5.48:4.3. According to this, if there are 18 adults per ear, then there may be about 77.4 nymphs per ear. The investigatory data in fields showed that when there were 18 nymphs per ear, then there was a 3% reduction of output; when there were 72 nymphs per ear, then the reduction in output was 19%; when there were 126 nymphs per ear, the reduction in output was about 8% ( Han and Xu, 1982 ).

Due to the variable regulations around (de-)registration of pesticides, we are for the moment not including any specific chemical control recommendations. For further information, we recommend you visit the following resources:

  • EU pesticides database (
  • PAN pesticide database (
  • Your national pesticide guide


Kurdjumov (1912) first mentioned that H. tritici was a pest of winter and spring wheat. Han and Xu (1982) summarized the economic importance of H. tritici in Xinjiang, China. Volodichev (1992) reviewed the harmfulness of H. tritici.

In western Kazakhstan, Bei-Bienko (1934) considered the loss of wheat production to be 2-3%. In the former USSR, H. tritici caused up to 5% loss of production ( Rubtsova, 1935 ; Griranov, 1958 ). Nefedor (1948) thought that the harmfulness of wheat thrips depended upon the wheat variety and fluctuated from 2-14% ( Dyadechko, 1964 ).

In northern Kazakhstan, former USSR, H. tritici is an important pest of spring wheat in the dry-steppe zone. Feeding by both adults and nymphs reduced the weight of the grain and had an adverse effect on its quality ( Lakhmanov, 1978 ).

In Siberia, in 1987-1989, damage on wheat was due chiefly to H. tritici ( Tastenov and Shul’gina, 1991 ).

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In the central Chernozem region of the former USSR in 1979-1982, during the milky-ripe stage and at the beginning of the waxy-ripe stage of winter wheat, numbers of H. tritici reached 4000-10000 individuals per m² ( Pavlov, 1983 ).

In the Elblag region of Poland in 1987-1988, H. tritici was one of five most abundant species. Most were found on winter wheat, with spring wheat, spring barley and winter barley less infested ( Zuranska et al., 1991 ).

H. tritici was found to occur only in the warmer (south-eastern) areas of Hungary and even there was sporadic ( Czencz, 1987 ). In 1987, H. tritici was one of four main insect pests of wheat near Simnic in Romania, and yield losses averaged 8% ( Banita, 1987 ). In the Cluj district of Romania in 1981-1990, H. tritici was one of three principal pests of the ears of winter wheat ( Malschi and Dumitru, 1992 ).

In central Anatolia, Turkey, H. tritici was the most common, economically important pest infesting wheat. The nymphs and adults damaged the leaf-sheaths, ears and grains of wheat ( Tunc, 1976 ). Feeding by H. tritici resulted in brown spots on the grains of wheat. Since the damaged grain was not eliminated when milled, their presence much reduced the commercial value of the flour. Several species of fungi and bacteria were isolated from the grain furrows damaged by H. tritici ( Bournier and Bernaux, 1971 ).

It was shown in special tests that the roots of seedlings from grain damaged by H. tritici were less well developed than the roots of seedlings undamaged by H. tritici. The ability of plants growing from seeds damaged by the thrips to regenerate damaged root systems was reduced, as was the plant weight and leaf area ( Shurovenkov, 1971 ).



Wheat is the third-largest field crop produced in the United States following corn and soybeans. In 2018, the United States produced 1.9 billion bushels of wheat. U.S. peak production of 2.5 billion bushels occurred in 1998 and again in 2008. The largest wheat producing states by volume in 2016 were: Kansas (467 million bushels), North Dakota (333 million bushels), Montana (213 million bushels), Washington (157 million bushels) and Oklahoma (136 million bushels).


U.S. wheat production is classified into five major classes: hard red winter, hard red spring, soft red winter, white and durum. Each class has different end-uses, and production tends to be region-specific (Table 1). Hard red winter and hard red spring wheat account for 60% percent of production. These classes are primarily used to produce bread flour. Soft red winter represents 23% of wheat production and is used in the production of cakes, crackers, and cookies. White wheat accounts for 15% of production and is used in noodles, crackers and cereal products. White wheat is a relatively broad category that includes both soft and hard varieties, as well as spring and winter varieties. Durum wheat is used to produce pasta.

Table 1. U.S. Wheat Classes.
Class 2018 Production,
in Bushels
Location Produced Uses
Hard Red Winter 661 million Great Plains (TX to MT) Bread flour
Hard Red Spring 583 million Northern Plains (ND, MT, MN, SD) High-protein blending
Soft Red Winter 292 million Eastern States Cakes, cookies, crackers
White 267 million WA, OR, ID, MI, NY Flour for noodles, crackers, cereals
Durum 73 million ND, MT Pasta

Winter wheat is sown in the fall and harvested the following summer. The crop emerges shortly after seeding and then enters dormancy over the winter months. Winter wheat resumes growth in the spring. Winter wheat is often planted to take advantage of fall moisture which ameliorates problems of limited spring and early summer moisture. It also matures earlier than spring wheat, so it is less subject to extreme summer heat in southern climates. Spring wheat is planted where cold winter weather often harms winter wheat and in regions where there is usually adequate spring and summer moisture. Spring wheat is sown in the spring and harvested in the late summer or fall. Approximately 63% of U.S. wheat production is winter wheat.

Prices and Demand

The price received by farmers for all wheat in 2017 averaged $4.60/bushel. Per capita wheat consumption has been declining for more than a century. In 1879, wheat flour consumption was 225 pounds/capita. Per capita consumption reached a low of 110 pounds in 1972. Consumption rebounded to 146 pounds by 2000, as flour-based foods such as pizza became more popular and because of the advent of bread machines. Over the past several years, however, per capita consumption of wheat flour has been decreasing as fad diets are encouraging an increasing percentage of the population to remove starches from their diet. In 2015 the average wheat flour consumption in the United States was 133.0 pounds per capita.

Value Added Opportunities

Wheat is generally marketed as a commodity, but a variety of value-added, niche markets exist. Organic food grains are increasingly important to some consumers. In addition, specialty wheat varieties (such as Khorasan) can be more palatable to those who have moderate allergies to wheat gluten. Finally, protein levels in both winter and spring wheat are important for food processors. In some years, high protein levels (especially in spring wheat) are often rewarded by substantial price premiums. Hence, higher protein varieties of spring wheat provide another value-added opportunity.

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