It’s not too early to begin scouting the fields, preparing for the 2013 harvest and the potential mycotoxin challenges it may bring.
Producers are still dealing with the 2012 contaminated corn crop and the issues it has brought to cow health and performance. Alltech’s 37+ Program surveyed 329 samples from July 1 through Dec. 31, 2012, and results showed only one percent of the samples analyzed were free of mycotoxins.
Analyses conducted since January has shown similar results but with interesting new findings: the numbers of mycotoxins present are still 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,” said Dr. Max Hawkins, Alltech Mycotoxin Management Team.
While 2013’s crop may have different results, Hawkins said mycotoxins are already showing up in different parts of the country due to late planting, more moisture and temperature swings.
“Producers need to implement a mycotoxin control program now to reduce the threat to their herds,” Hawkins said. “This is the time to be proactive.”
Hawkins said the new crop is variable across the country due to weather and planting, and the early samples of wheat and barley are showing DON. Hay and haylage analyses have also shown mycotoxins present and, without a preventative plan, cows may experience a drop in milk production as well as health issues.
Due to the “trash” or crop residue on top of the ground during a cold, wet spring, an ideal climate was created for many fusarium molds to get a foothold.
The future mycotoxin picture is still unclear but the levels of harmful contaminants will depend on the weather leading up to harvest and the way crops are stored. At harvest time, it is 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.
Hawkins recommends producers using the rest of the 2012 crop should only run aeration fans during the coolest times of day or night and continually monitor stored grain for temperature and mycotoxins.
Mold growth in storage is greater where there are leaks in facilities and where fines and damaged kernels are concentrated. Grain should be held at 50 degrees Fahrenheit or less as new mold growth will increase temperature and moisture in surrounding grain.
Hawkins encourages producers to be vigilant with their myocotoxin management programs as they finish out the 2012 harvest and continue to track the 2013 crop as harvest approaches.