Aflatoxin Scare Picks Up Steam In Indiana

More reports indicate that the toxin is present in some cornfields.

Published on: Sep 25, 2012

The buzz in the grain industry is that aflatoxin is showing up, although not yet at epidemic levels, as farmers begin to shell corn early and deliver it to the market. Obviously, the problem is coming from fields that were stressed with drought and heat during pollination and grain fill.

Conflicting reports are common. Plus, there are the stories that always circulate. A farmer takes in a load of corn, it's tested and rejected, he drives around for a while and goes back to the same elevator, and they test it and accept it.

There is also variation in what levels various elevators will accept. At least one farmer who has harvested corn rejected for aflatoxin took it home and binned it, hoping to take it to an ethanol plant later. However, there is word that some ethanol plants are being as strict or stricter than regular elevators on testing for and rejecting corn with aflatoxin even at relatively low levels.

Chuck Woloshuk, Purdue University plant pathologist, says that molds are likely because of the environment this year. Aspergillus will typically produce an olive brown mold. However, you need confirmation before you make decisions about what to do with your corn.
Chuck Woloshuk, Purdue University plant pathologist, says that molds are likely because of the environment this year. Aspergillus will typically produce an olive brown mold. However, you need confirmation before you make decisions about what to do with your corn.

The advice from specialists remains the same: check fields for suspicious ears before you harvest. If you have crop insurance, do it sooner rather than later so that the adjustor has time to get to your field before you want to pull in and shell it. Have ear samples tested at an approved lab if it is for crop insurance purposes, and find out if you have it before you begin shelling in the field.

What you have makes a difference. You may have Aspergillus mold, but not have aflatoxin. Or it may be a different mold altogether. Testing for mold and testing for aflatoxin produced by the mold in some cases are two different things.