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Agriculture Today

2012 corn crop still needs to be monitored for mycotoxins

2012 corn crop still needs to be monitored for mycotoxins
Four of the nation’s top corn-producing states were given permission last year to blend corn at levels exceeding the U. S. Food and Drug Administration aflatoxin action level.

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July 10, 2013

The 2012 corn crop delivered many of the problems that were foreseen throughout last year’s growing season. Decreased yields, variable quality and mycotoxins have affected livestock production throughout North America. However, this crop may still be causing trouble as we dig deeper into the storage bins, according to a June Alltech press release.

Alltech’s 37+ Program surveyed 329 samples from July 1 through Dec. 31, 2012. Only 1 percent of the samples analyzed were free of mycotoxin contamination; 94 percent were contaminated with 2 to 10 mycotoxins. In corn grain samples, 95 percent contained Fumonisin and 48 percent contained Deoxynivalenol (DON) -- a mycotoxin produced by Fusarium species, which infect numerous grains, both in the field and during storage. In corn silage, 90 percent contained Fumonisin and 84 percent contained DON. The dried distillers’ grain samples contained 100 percent of both Fumonisin and DON. In all samples tested, aflatoxin was present in 18 percent.

“The ‘take home’ out of this data set is that the 2012 corn crop is widely contaminated with multiple mycotoxins that can decrease animal performance and health,” said Dr. Max Hawkins, Alltech Myctoxin Management Team. “However, as aflatoxins’ allowable level in feed and its metabolite M1 in milk are legislated, its presence is not as widespread and is more regionalized.”

According to Hawkins, 37+ analyses conducted since Jan. 1 has shown similar results but with an interesting new finding. The numbers of mycotoxins present are increasing.

“This increase in the total numbers of mycotoxins over time can be attributed to areas such as poor fermentation and inadequate packing or face management that can contribute to further mold growth and mycotoxin production,” Hawkins said.

At harvest time, it was recommended for mycotoxin contaminated grain to be dried to 14 percent moisture within 24 to 48 hours to stabilize mold growth and ensure adequate grain storage. By limiting mold growth, mycotoxin production can be stabilized, but any mycotoxins already present would remain.

According to Hawkins, as temperatures remained warm in the fall, many growers aerated the bins and discovered that the mold and mycotoxin levels increased rapidly. As storage facilities have been emptied this spring, high levels of mycotoxins have been found in the lower levels of the facilities, where the fines and cracked kernels tend to concentrate.

Hawkins recommends these five tips for producers using the last of their 2012 crop:

•Only run aeration fans during the coolest times of day or night. Hold grain at 50 degrees Fahrenheit or less and 14 percent moisture or less.

•Mold growth in storage is greater where there are leaks in facilities and where fines and damaged kernels are concentrated.

•The south side and tops of grain bins warm quicker as daytime temperatures begin to increase.

•New mold growth will increase temperature and moisture in surrounding grain.

•Continually monitor stored grain for temperature, moisture, and mycotoxins.

Your Opinions and Comments

Tired of Labels  
July 11, 2013 5:31pm
Aflatoxin has a propensity to store in fatty tissue, which includes the brain. It can and does cross the blood brain barrier. Once there it will wreak havoc on brain function and may be a cause of neurological disorders. But ... More ›

Tired of Labels  
July 11, 2013 5:26pm
The idiocy of the USDA is beyond comprehension. To allow aflatoxin to be mixed with good, clean grains is a catastrophe in the making. Aflatoxin is a deadly neurotoxin. It should NOT and MUST not be allowed to enter the food ... More ›

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