Industry on alert, Nutriad screening wheat and corn samples to gauge mycotoxin load

By Jane Byrne

- Last updated on GMT

Industry on alert, Nutriad screening wheat and corn samples to gauge mycotoxin load

Related tags Wheat Uk

Recent weather conditions have put livestock and feed producers on high alert regarding mycotoxin contamination of grain, said Belgium’s Nutriad. 

Radka Borutova, business development manager at the feed additive supplier, noting the European heat wave in late June and early July that broke monthly records, said hot and dry weather has been linked to higher aflatoxin production by the fungus from the Aspergillus species.

She noted that Germany’s all time heat record was surpassed on 5 July in Kitzingen where temperatures hit 40.3 degrees Celsius temperature. There were similar record highs in the Ukraine, Poland, Hungary, and Slovakia, she added. 

Maize field devastated by drough_Slovakia2
Maize field Slovakia August 2015 (c) Nutriad 

“However, conditions were not the same throughout the region. While continental and central Europe experienced extreme heat and dryness in those months, markets like the UK, for example, had a lot of rainfall. The wet weather could have impacted the UK wheat crop in some growing areas in terms of mold growth,”​ said Borutova.

Rainfall and humidity in the wheat field contributes to infection by Fusarium sp which produce deoxynivalenol in grain. Severe head blight occurrence decreases not only the grain yield but also the grain quality, reported the Nutriad representative.

The company has released a photo of Fusarium head blight in the UK wheat crop from last month.

UK wheat blighted
UK wheat conditions in August 2015 (c) Nutriad

Overall, said Borutova, high humidity and drought, high precipitation, and a big difference between day and night temperatures are ideal for aflatoxin formation.

“Nevertheless, the weather pattern remains only an indicator - sampling of crops will provide us with more proof of mycotoxin contamination levels,”​ she said.

Grain sampling

She told us Nutriad has begun analyzing 50 samples of wheat from the UK to determine mycotoxin load. “The first five samples, though, have shown up nothing,”​ she added.

That final data, showing average and maximum UK wheat mycotoxin contamination levels, will be published in the coming weeks.

She said Nutriad is also intending to screen wheat from Poland and will analyze corn samples from Spain. The 39.9 degrees Celsius recorded in Madrid on 6 July this year toppled the previous record high in that city of 39.5 degrees Celsius from July 1995, said Borutova.

“The evaluation of corn from Spain will not take place until after the harvest – early November is the likely date for screening to begin,”​ she said.

Borutova said Nutriad hopes to release the results of its screening before the end of 2015 to support feed grain buying decisions. 

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