Aflatoxin In Corn Raises Crop Insurance Questions

Here's what you need to know about making a claim to your crop insurance company for aflatoxin.

Published on: Sep 7, 2012

Early harvest reports confirm the presence of aflatoxin in corn in some fields in several areas of Iowa. In the following article Charles Hurburgh and Chad Hart explain what farmers need to know about making a claim to their crop insurance company. Hurburgh is a grain quality expert in Iowa State University's Department of Ag and Biosystems Engineering. Hart is an ISU Extension grain marketing economist.

Farmers urged to leave field check strips for crop insurance

SCOUT FIELDS: Pull back husks on several ears of each hybrid and look for signs of Aspergillus ear rot. This green mold usually shows up on kernels at tip of the ear first, especially if theyve been damaged. If you find Aspergillus fungus, that still doesnt mean Aflatoxin was produced, but the grain should be tested.
SCOUT FIELDS: Pull back husks on several ears of each hybrid and look for signs of Aspergillus ear rot. This green mold usually shows up on kernels at tip of the ear first, especially if they've been damaged. If you find Aspergillus fungus, that still doesn't mean Aflatoxin was produced, but the grain should be tested.
Farmers who have aflatoxin or drought-reduced yields or other crop damage in their fields this fall should leave check strips of unharvested corn for crop insurance purposes. The standing strips are critical to verify crop insurance claims.

Aflatoxin is covered under multiperil crop insurance. The settlement is done as a deducted percentage of actual yield depending on the aflatoxin level.

If a claim is made, the aflatoxin level will be determined in the field, before the grain is harvested and put in storage. A crop insurance adjuster will either hand-harvest ears from predetermined representative locations in the field or collect samples at harvest from trucks/wagons. Strips may be left for later harvest or hand sampling, at the direction of the adjuster. Hot weather conditions can cause the aflatoxin levels in strips to increase beyond harvest levels.

Testing must be done by a lab approved by insurance company
An elevator or processor can also be approved to collect and combine samples for submission to a lab, if the corn is marketed from the field. Testing must be done by lab approved by the insurance carrier, generally a disinterested third party capable of accurate mycotoxin testing.