While the shadow of mold and mycotoxin contamination hung over corn harvest in some areas of the eastern Corn Belt, Nebraska's 2005 crop was relatively free of that problem, according to Randy Klein, director of market development for the Nebraska Corn Board.
During the board's October Corn Harvest and Industry Tour, all 106 samples tested were negative for aflatoxin.
Klein says the Nebraska corn crop is traditionally low in mold and mycotoxins. That's because their occurrence is often triggered by stress, particularly heat and drought stress. That stress is minimized in Nebraska because much of the state's corn crop is irrigated.
The exception to that was the historic drought of 2002, says Klein, when Nebraska had some problems, particularly with aflatoxin, in dryland fields and on under-watered pivot corners.
But will Nebraska's "clean" corn crop translate into additional sales to concerned buyers?
"There's plenty of corn available and at a good price," says Klein. "It's a buyers market. I hope business will pick up."
The cost of transporting Nebraska's corn to the domestic end-user or export point could be the sticking factor. The Port of New Orleans and rail transportation in parts of the hurricane-ravaged South isn't back to normal yet.
It's more costly to obtain rail cars this season, and there are fuel surcharges on rail transportation rates, says Klein. But if a buyer was willing to pay the freight, Nebraska corn producers would have no problem putting together as many identity-preserved cars of corn as the buyer wants.