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8 things to keep in mind if you have flood-submerged crops8 things to keep in mind if you have flood-submerged crops

Plan ahead and decide what to do with grain from flood-submerged corn and soybeans.

Rod Swoboda 1

September 26, 2016

3 Min Read

Rains that deluged parts of northern Iowa in September caused water to rise above the grain in a number of corn and soybean fields. What can farmers do with this “flooded” grain? The following information comes from Charles Hurburgh, professor in charge of the Iowa Grain Quality Initiative at ISU. If you have specific questions, contact him at 515-294-8629 or [email protected]. Also, visit the Iowa Grain Quality website extension.iastate.edu/grain for more information on drying the 2016 harvest.


Grain submerged by uncontrolled flood waters is considered adulterated under the federal Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act. This policy dates to 2008 when grain storage facilities in Cedar Rapids were inundated, and the policy has been applied to several situations since then. Adulterated material cannot be put in commercial facilities of any type, where there would be a chance of entering into the human food supply or animal food.

There have been a number of flooded (water over the grain height) fields in northeast Iowa since mid-September. Late September rains have increased the scope of this problem to north central and east central Iowa as well.

Here’s a possible disposition strategy for corn that does not involve taking it to a commercial facility:

1) Make a third party documentation of the affected area (GPS, photo documentation of water depth). This would probably be done by a crop insurance adjuster, and would have to be done before harvest to preserve insurance coverage.

2) Harvest the grain as soon as possible to limit further spoilage. Dry immediately to below 14% moisture content and keep wet holding time to a minimum. Isolate both wet and dry grain from each other. This grain should not be taken to a commercial elevator, warehouse or feed mill.

3) Clean combines, wagons and handling equipment as completely as possible.

4) Feed in a documented on-farm livestock feeding plan approved by a veterinarian. Test for potential hazards—mycotoxins, heavy metals, PCB’s, pathogens—appropriate for the species to be fed based knowledge of the flooding situation. Test results need to be documented and feeding records should be retained.

5) If testing is done, submit at least 10 pounds (shelled) collected from multiple locations across the area of grain that was submerged. Veterinarians have access to the ISU Veterinary Diagnostic Lab; commercial laboratories can also analyze for these factors. Refrigerate the samples and submit as quickly as possible. The ISU Vet Diagnostic Lab Mycotoxin website is vetmed.iastate.edu/vdpam/research/disease-topics/toxicology/mycotoxins.

6) This grain should never be fed to dairy animals or laying hens.

7) If an on-farm feeding plan meeting these conditions is not possible, the grain should be destroyed in field or after harvest, using methods accepted by FDA and health officials.

8) Hay and silage is normally fed on farm; the same testing and feeding plan criteria apply as for corn. Flooded hay should not be baled and taken to a hay auction.

How about soybeans? What can you do with flooded soybeans that meet the “adulterated” definition? Soybeans have very few direct feed uses. Flooded soybeans should not be taken to an elevator or processing plant. Flooded soybeans should be destroyed unless there is an on-farm operation that could meet the criteria for on-farm feeding of corn.

Regulatory policy and officials are not involved in the price/value determination of flooded grain. Grain that was above the water line is marketable, although mycotoxin testing may be advisable. The continued hot, humid weather is increasing the chances for mold growth on all corn.

About the Author(s)

Rod Swoboda 1

Editor, Wallaces Farmer

Rod, who has been a member of the editorial staff of Wallaces Farmer magazine since 1976, was appointed editor of the magazine in April 2003. He is widely recognized around the state, especially for his articles on crop production and soil conservation topics, and has won several writing awards, in addition to honors from farm, commodity and conservation organizations.

"As only the tenth person to hold the position of Wallaces Farmer editor in the past 100 years, I take seriously my responsibility to provide readers with timely articles useful to them in their farming operations," Rod says.

Raised on a farm that is still owned and operated by his family, Rod enjoys writing and interviewing farmers and others involved in agriculture, as well as planning and editing the magazine. You can also find Rod at other Farm Progress Company activities where he has responsibilities associated with the magazine, including hosting the Farm Progress Show, Farm Progress Hay Expo and the Iowa Master Farmer program.

A University of Illinois grad with a Bachelors of Science degree in agriculture (ag journalism major), Rod joined Wallaces Farmer after working several years in Washington D.C. as a writer for Farm Business Incorporated.

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