Seed is alive. A good harvest starts by planting healthy seed. Most farmers save their own rice seed for sowing the following year. This living seed must be stored properly to stay healthy.
Air and moisture will destroy the seed. If the seed is not properly dried before storage, it becomes soft, hot and moist and it will be attacked by disease and insect pests. Insects need air to breathe, reproduce and damage your rice seed. If you keep the container on the ground, the seed at the bottom will become moist, mouldy and discoloured.
How to store rice seed
1. Select and harvest good panicles separately. Thresh them and dry them. You can test the dryness of the seeds by biting them with your teeth.
2. Wash, clean and dry the seed container so that it is free from insects and their eggs. You can store seed in plastic pots, tin containers or drums.
3. You can store seed in an earthen pot, as long as you keep out the air. Air can pass through the lid, but also through the small holes in the earthen pot itself. To keep out the air, plug up the little holes by painting your earthen pots with paint from the hardware store or with varnish or tar, on both the inside and the outside. You can also cover the surface of the pot with used cooking oil instead of paint.
4. Some women put a burning candle inside the container and then put on the lid. The candle will burn until the oxygen is gone. Insects inside the container will suffocate and die.
5. Fill the container with dry seed, right up to the top. If there is not enough rice, you can fill the pot with some puffed rice or dried sand to take up the air space.
6. Put dry bishkatali, neem or tobacoo leaves at the bottom of the pot, and at the top of the seed to keep out insects. Tightly close the lid so that no air can get in.
7. Keep seed containers off the ground to keep the bottom seed dry.