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Vomitoxin Appears in Indiana Wheat Crops

Vomitoxin Appears in Indiana Wheat Crops
Wheat harvest this year brought about a small amount of Vomitoxin.

Vomitoxin reared its ugly head again this wheat harvest. I knew that if a load tested positive for it, it could be docked and if it tested really positive it could be rejected. But I didn't know much more.

After a little internet research and checking some reliable sources such as North Dakota State University Extension and the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture, this is what I learned.

Vomitoxin, or its scientific name, Deoxynialenol, is a mycotoxin produced by certain Fursarium species. It can frequently infect corn, wheat, oats, barley, rice and other grains in the field or during storage.

Indiana wheat harvest: One of my favorite times of the year on the farm is wheat harvest. Our one day of harvest is as close to Christmas excited as a girl can get.

Extremely wet growing condition in late summer and fall contribute heavily to the presence of DON. It is produced by grain infected by Fursarium Head Blight or commonly referred to as scab.

The combination of scab and wet growing condition during the flowering and grain filling stages of plant development make an ideal situation for Vomitoxin. It does not, however, automatically mean that it is present.

Related: If Wheat's At Risk Of Vomitoxin, Call Your Insurer Before Harvest

It is measured in parts per million or ppm, so if 1 kernel of wheat in a million kernels is positive for the toxin it is called 1ppm. An ounce (800 kernels) of infected wheat in one semi load would equate to 1 ppm.

When explaining this to consumers North Dakota State University Extension says:

"The concentrations of DON in grain are expressed a parts per million. One ppm is equivalent to 1 pound in 1 million pounds, 1 penny in $10,000, 1 minute in two years, or 1 wheat kernel in 80 pounds."

There are FDA recommendations on feeding positive tested wheat to livestock. Each species is different, so check with a veterinarian.

There is no one sure cure for preventing Vomitoxin as environmental conditions play the biggest role. NDSU, however, does recommend several control practices such as crop rotation, choosing a variety with some resistance, applying fungicides in a timely manner and tillage practices.

The opinions of Jennifer Campbell are not necessarily those of Indiana Prairie Farmer or the Penton Farm Progress Group.

TAGS: USDA Extension
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