Fumonisin Front and Center
With 2018 being dubbed a “perfect storm” for a rise in mycotoxin rates worldwide, a new threat has come to the forefront of news—and concern—among those who handle corn: Fumonisin.
Conversations about mycotoxins are generally centered around Aflatoxin and Vomitoxin (DON), which are the most prevalent and regulated threats to grain worldwide. But in the Southeast and High Plains of the U.S., as well as Eastern Europe and the Iberian Peninsula, Fumonisin in this year’s corn crop has reached notable levels, and has been directly linked to adverse health and death loss in poultry, swine and horses.
K-State Research and Extension Service announced several incidents in north-central Kansas, warning that corn producers and those feeding corn to livestock need to be aware of the potential for Fumonisin in their corn past harvest through storage and beyond. Even if Fumonisin is at very low levels when tested going into storage, it will thrive and proliferate if conditions are not monitored and moisture controlled. Best practice dictates it be tested again when coming out of storage for this reason.
Ranges of concern for Fumonisin include >1 ppm for equine diets and >10 ppm for swine feed; as a point of reference, some of the corn analyzed in north-central Kansas showed Fumonisin concentrations >100ppm, with some as high as 700 ppm.
At a gathering of producers in Texas, the Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service noted that many producers had never even heard of Fumonisin in their area. Although historically not common in Texas, wildly fluctuating temperatures around harvest time can cause Fumonisin to grow exponentially in the field. With the recent unpredictability of weather patterns, these experts recommended growers keep fusarium ear rot resistance and heat resistance in mind when choosing which varieties of corn to plant moving forward.
Further, it is infrequently that a single mycotoxin is found in isolation. Though little is known with certainty, it is highly suspected that multiple mycotoxin consumption has additive and possibly synergistic detrimental effects on animal health.
All of the experts agree that regardless of weather conditions, historical data, or word-of-mouth opinions about the quality of crops, all grain should be tested for multiple mycotoxins in order to assure its suitability for downstream uses.