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Aflatoxin Alert


The South Dakota Corn Growers Association is warning farmers – especially in southeast South Dakota – to test their corn for aflatoxin before combining it.

Aflatoxin has been found include Clay, Lincoln, Turner, Union and Yankton including the towns of Beresford, Canton and Viborg.

Aflatoxin is an insurable cause of loss as long as the grain is tested before being moved into commercial or on-farm storage, says Robert Berg, manager of the SDSU Southeast Experiment Farm at Beresford.

Crop insurance coverage ends at harvest and since there is the possibility of post-harvest contamination, producers must have insurance agents obtain samples prior to storage.

Can't see it

Aflatoxin cannot be detected by a visual evaluation. Moldy grain doesn't always test positive for aflatoxin whereas grain that looks clean sometimes does test positive. Blacklight testing is an indicator used for detection, but is not a definitive test for aflatoxin. A USDA approved determinative test and/or lab is required to quantify if the load's aflatoxin levels exceed FDA Advisory Levels.

The FDA Advisory levels are as follows:
Zero to 20 parts per billion (ppb): No advisory levels. Grain accepted.
21-300 ppb: Corn can be fed to finishing feeder pigs at 200 ppb or less; beef in feedlots can tolerate up to 300 ppb. There is zero tolerance for aflatoxin in dairy products.
Over 300 ppb: FDA prohibits use. Grain would be recommended destroyed.
Price discounts at grain handling facilities have exceeded $1 per bushel for aflatoxin-contaminated corn.

To test corn for aflatoxin, submit a 2-pound sample less than 18% moisture in a paper bag (no plastic bags) to the following address:

Sioux City Inspection and Weighing Service Company
840 Clark Street
Sioux City, Iowa 51101-2037

Include a check for $33.90 per sample and results will be called to the producer within one to two days. Call (712) 255-8033 or email for more information.

Dry to 12-13%

Aflatoxin can also develop or continue to develop on corn in storage. Factors affecting that growth include moisture content and temperature of stored grain, condition of grain going into storage and length of storage.

One strategy for reducing risk of contaminating a bin of corn with aflatoxin is to dry corn out of the field down to 12 or 13 percent as quickly as possible.

Aflatoxin grows rapidly at 14% moisture; moisture content below 13% prevents invasion by the fungus, according to university studies. The fungus also grows rapidly in grain storage temperatures 34 degrees F and above.

For more information, contact the SDCGA at 605-334-0100.

Source: SDCGA

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