Why one elevator may accept your corn and another rejects it
Here at EnviroLogix, we have recently seen instances in the press of frustrated farmers complaining about variance in results from mycotoxin detection testing performed at different grain elevators. Because consistency and accuracy are foundational to our mission, this caught our attention and we wanted to offer some important tips.
There are four factors that may contribute to the variance in the test results shown in the media:
One of the most usual suspects when there has been a lot of rain is moisture.
To deal with moist grain, prior to testing, we recommend running it through the grinder on a coarse setting (e.g., ‘Drip’ on a Bunn Coffee Grinder) once and then a second time on a less course setting (e.g., ‘Turkish’).
A very common culprit is sampling.
(flat truck sampling guideline courtesty of USDA)
Sampling is the science of obtaining as homogenous a sample of the grain within a truck as possible, blending probed samples together to ensure that grain from all areas of the truck are represented. The USDA Grain Inspection, Packers and Stockyards Administration has extensive recommendations on best practices for obtaining a homogenous sample; and homogeneity is the key to consistent detection. Not only does this increase the probability that mycotoxins present in the load will be detected, but it also gives a better, more accurate representation of what the contamination level is across the entire truckload.
The next most likely reason that variance might occur in different grain elevators is deviation from protocol.
Each test kit comes with detailed instructions for operators to run the test. Whenever there is a question about protocol, don’t make assumptions…check the instructions and, if in doubt, reach out for technical advice. Here is a video showing best practices for testing for DON. Proper protocol will yield the best, the most accurate, and most consistent results with the least variance from site to site.
Finally, there is also a possibility that different elevators have different thresholds of acceptance.
Depending on whom the elevator intends to sell their supply to and what applications the grain may have from there, different elevators may be more tolerant of certain contamination levels than others.
We want to help everyone in the supply chain understand how variability can occur, how to minimize it, and to better understand how best practices in probing/sampling as well as test protocols can dramatically improve accuracy and reduce variance.
DON (also known as Vomitoxin or Vom) has become quite prevalent in areas such as Western Ontario, Eastern Michigan and spots throughout the US Ethanol production region. The EnviroLogix QuickTox for QuickScan DON Flex test is the fastest DON test in the rapid testing market; and is both AOAC Certified and GIPSA approved.