Barley, Hordeum vulgare L., one of the important crops in Canada, is used in malting, feed, and food industries. Disinfestation of barley using microwaves can be an alternative to chemical methods used to kill insects. A pilot-scale industrial microwave system operating at 2.45 MHz was used in this study to determine the mortality of life stages (egg, larva, pupa, and adult) of Tribolium castaneum (Herbst) (Coleoptera: Tenebrionidae). Barley samples of 50 g each at 14, 16, and 18% moisture content (MC; wet basis) were infested with various life stages of T. castaneum and exposed to microwave energy at different power levels and exposure times, and the mortality of the insects was determined. The average temperature of the 14% MC sample exposed to 28 s at 0, 200, 300, 400, and 500 W were 27.4, 42.6, 53.7, 66.9, and 73.0°C, respectively, and those exposed to 56 s at 0, 200, 300, and 400 W were 27.4, 57.3, 75.5, and 91.2°C, respectively. A similar range of temperature was observed for 16 and 18% MC barley. Complete mortality of all life stages of T. castaneum can be achieved at a power level of 400 W and an exposure time of 56 s or at 500 W for 28 s. Among the life stages of T. castaneum, eggs were the most susceptible to microwave energy and adults were the least susceptible. There was no significant difference in the mortality of larvae and adults at 14, 16, and 18% MC, but the mortality was significantly different for eggs and pupae at different MCs. There was a significant increase in the mortality with an increase in power level or exposure time or both. Germination capacity of the seeds was decreased with an increase in power level or exposure time or both. Quality characteristics such as α-amylase, diastatic power, soluble protein, viscosity, and density of the barley malt treated at 500 W for 28 s were same as the control sample, whereas the samples treated at 400 W for 56 s were significantly lower.
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Vol. 101 • No. 3