A website developed by plant pathologists from Purdue University and a nationwide partnership of research institutions could help farmers better understand and respond to the threat of mycotoxins and ear rots in corn.
The site, Corn Mycotoxins, includes management information as well as photo and video reference materials about Aspergillus, Diplodia, Fusarium and Gibberella - the four most common and economically significant ear rots. The website also provides information on how to properly store moldy grain and the characteristics of various types of mycotoxins.
Ear rots occur when certain fungi infect corn. Several of those fungi produce mycotoxins, which accumulate in grain. Mycotoxins can be harmful to livestock and humans if contaminated grain is used in livestock feed or human food products.
Mycotoxins are natural chemicals that are very stable and not easily eliminated from contaminated grain, says Charles Woloshuk, professor of botany and plant pathology and member of the website development team.
"Prevention is the most effective management strategy to reducing the impact of ear rots and mycotoxins," Woloshuk says. "We created the website to make management information readily accessible to farmers and agribusiness personnel so they can take appropriate precautions to prevent ear rots and manage mycotoxins if they occur in the grain."
The website is a product of the Integrated Management Strategies for Aspergillus and Fusarium Ear Rots of Corn project, which was established in 2012 with funding from the U.S. Department of Agriculture's National Institute of Food and Agriculture. The goal of the project is to coordinate and promote a research and Extension collaboration that provides corn producers with new tools for managing ear rots and mycotoxins.
Woloshuk said the team will regularly update the website with new information based on research results.
One new tool under development is a phone app with an ear rot identification guide. With the app, farmers can use their mobile devices to identify different ear rots in the field.
"Since the different ear rots occur in different environments, it's important for farmers to know what they are dealing with and manage the correct ear rot," Woloshuk says.
To view the website, go to http://www.corntoxins.org/
Source: Purdue Extension