High levels of mycotoxins detected in U.S. grains

November 12, 2018

By all accounts, much of the U.S. is closing its 2018 harvest season with a high risk for mycotoxin development in grains thanks to wet weather over the past few weeks and months.

Not only have these issues caused concern for harvest timing, prompting delays due to moisture, but the increased risk of mold growth increases the likelihood of mycotoxin contamination.

The University of Arizona’s Duarte Diaz told Feedstuffs that farmers and livestock producers should expect fumonisin especially in southern states and higher levels of DON, T-2/HT-2 and zearalenone in the Midwest and western states. And, where one mycotoxin is found, usually others are also present.

Max Hawkins, mycotoxin expert from Alltech and frequent contributor to Neogen’s Monday Mycotoxin and Crop Reports, told Feed Navigator that in corn silage samples sent to Alltech this year so far, the average sample contained 6.26 mycotoxins. About 99% of samples contained two or more types. None were free of mycotoxins. DON and fumonisin were the most prevalent, but some T-2/HT-2 and zearalenone was found.

Hawkins also told Feedstuffs that livestock producers should be careful, because multiple mycotoxins in feed can have synergistic interactions in the body once consumed by an animal, presenting a greater risk to their health and productivity.

These mycotoxin concerns have experts urging producers and growers to test for mycotoxins, this year more than ever. “It’s much more economical to be proactive than it is to be reactive,” Hawkins told Feed Navigator.

When sampling, a standardized sampling plan is considered ideal for accurate results, which makes sure that the sample truly is representative of the entire volume of grain. Neogen’s Tony Lupo models proper techniques in one of his Tech Tips here.

Reuters reports that about three quarters of all U.S. corn is used domestically to feed livestock, to make ethanol, and make a byproduct that is also fed to animals, and that the “panic button” is being pressed in some regions. According to Reuters, ethanol plants are warning farmers about rejections and financial penalties if mycotoxins are detected in their corn deliveries, and prices for alternative feed sources are skyrocketing in places.

It remains to be seen what the final impact of this year’s wild weather will have on the U.S. harvest, but as the season wraps up, more will be revealed as the industry continues to gather and test.

For a weekly update into mycotoxin levels in grain throughout the U.S., subscribe to Neogen’s Monday Mycotoxin and Crop Report.


Category: Agriculture, Milling & Grain, Mycotoxins