Recently I spoke with a friend who had been given some wheat that had been stored in metal cans and plastic buckets in the 1970’s. Luckily because of the age she was feeding this to her pigs. She found a black mold in the bottom few inches of several of the containers. The wheat looked good on top and she didn’t find the mold until most of a can had been feed to the pigs. The pigs did not suffer any ill effects from the mold.
This brings up the question, where did the mold come from and what type is it. Unfortunately the molded wheat is gone so that we will never know what type of mold it was. What caused it is a question we may be partly able to answer.
Having been around in the 1970’s, I can tell you that this was before Mylar bags and oxygen absorbers. Most people packed their wheat in the cans with dry ice or used nothing. I can remember packing wheat with nothing but bay leaves on top to keep the bugs out. I suspect that original moisture content of the wheat was the problem. Wheat to be stored for long term should have no more than 10-12 moisture content.
The LDS Church (Mormon) states the following.
“Dry Products for Longer-Term Food Storage
Products intended for longer-term storage must be dry (about 10% or less moisture content).
Warning: Botulism poisoning may result if moist products are stored in packaging that reduces oxygen.
Dry products that are not suitable for longer-term storage due to moisture content, oils, or other concerns include:
Meat, dried (such as jerky)
Flour, whole wheat
Grains, milled (other than rolled oats)
Vegetables and fruits, dehydrated (unless dry enough, inside and out, to snap when bent)”
In this case I suspect that moisture content of the wheat was too high and it may have been stored in to warm an area. Temperatures of 80 degrees or above are ideal for the growth of mold and insects.
Just remember that nothing can be done to improve the quality of grain in storage. The best that can be achieved is to maintain the quality that exists presently. It needs to be dry before it is packed.
If you have older wheat in your storage that you are concerned about, I suggest that prior to use, you empty the contents from one container into another so that you can check the wheat on the bottom for mold. One good solution for storing wheat is to purchase the pre canned wheat from the LDS Home Store Centers.
I have a few older cans in the back of my storage I am going to check.