Recent rainfall has followed hot, dry conditions in much of the Corn Belt this year, which has led to ideal conditions for the formation of aflatoxin. A byproduct of several types of mold, aflatoxin can cause serious health problems if consumed by livestock or humans.
Corn tainted with aflatoxin can infect other corn if stored in the same bin. Recent discoveries of aflatoxin in northwest Iowa have caused several elevators to refuse corn from some producers.
Joel DeJong, a crop specialist at Iowa State University, urges producers to scout their fields before starting harvest, especially the parts of the field hardest hit by the drought. The mold may be present in only part of the field, allowing part of the crop to be harvested and a crop insurance claim can be made on the infected area. However, if the corn has already been combined and aflatoxin is discovered in the truck, it's too late to be covered by crop insurance.