January 15, 2020


Mycotoxin risk likely to be high for Alberta corn in 2020, Alltech says



In 2020, due to the lack of forages in North America, corn silage inclusion is going to be much higher, so there may be a heightened mycotoxin risk from corn silage than Alberta, Canada had seen in recent years, Max Hawkins of Alltech's mycotoxin management team told Alberta Farmer Express.


Alltech's harvest analysis in 2019 also found an average of more than five different mycotoxins per sample, so Alberta producers need to be on greater alert.


Hawkins highlighted that livestock producers may not be aware they have a problem with mycotoxins, as the symptoms can be both subtle and varied.


"In order to control or mitigate a mycotoxin situation, we have to identify what that mycotoxin risk is in our own particular situation," he added.


"You can have quite a variation within a small geographic area, so each individual producer really needs to get an idea of what their own individual risk is."


Stressing that the weather is a critical factor in risk assessment, Hawkins pointed out that the first thing to consider is growing conditions on farm last year, particularly rainfall.


For instance, some moulds, such as fusarium, thrive in wet conditions and moderate temperatures.


"This year, like many other years where we're seeing particularly high rates of fusarium mycotoxins such as DON and T2, it's in areas where we had high incidence of crop damage due to hailstorms, wind, and heavy rain," said Hawkins.


Crops that were harvested early seem to have little risk, while the later crops —particularly corn — could be a bigger concern.


"Essentially what we have is two growing seasons back to back that are both the wettest we've seen in 127 years of recorded weather history. So it's put the crop in those areas into really high stress, and that's where we get into all sorts of problems, " Hawkins said.


Compounding the issue is the number of different mycotoxins that was found in feed.


Alltech's 2019 harvest analysis found an average of 5.25 different mycotoxins per sample, with some samples containing nearly 10 different ones.


"If you have one of them, you can manage through it pretty easily, but when you begin to have two or three, it makes it much more challenging," Hawkins said.


He advised that livestock producers will need to test their feed ingredients for contamination to have a good grasp of the risk level of their own operations.


"The take-home here is that everybody needs to test their own ingredients," said Hawkins. "It's important to get that data so we can formulate a risk management programme and control the mycotoxins that go into these finished feeds."