The Heartland Minute


Fumonisin, Aflatoxin-Should I be worried?”

Before this life as an Extension agent, out of college I worked for a grain company as a grain trader. My days were spent working with farmers, and end users alike; moving commodities across our state and surrounding states. Many of my end users were growing facilities for cattle, hogs, even chickens. And nothing could throw a wrench in your logistical plan quite like a load of corn getting rejected for Aflatoxin. It’s being reported that this year (and rightfully so considering the weather we have had) is going to be a bad year for mycotoxins. So what is mycotoxins, and should producers be concerned?

The fall weather patterns in Kansas were conducive to a buildup of mycotoxins in feedstuffs, particularly harvested grain and livestock feed. Which means, livestock producers should be on the lookout for feed that may contain unsafe concentrations of mycotoxins, or mold toxins. Kansas State University Veterinarian and Toxicologist Steve Ensley reported that they have already seen some death losses associated with mycotoxins in pigs and horses and have found high concentrations of fumonisin and aflatoxin in samples. Ensley is concerned that it may be a bigger health issue statewide than the localized cases they have seen thus far. These molds are present in agricultural environments all the time, but when they get on the right substrate with the right temperature and humidity, then they grow and produce a toxin. Kansas’s summer drought conditions led to a heightened risk of aflatoxin in the state’s grain crop, while wet conditions during the 2018 harvest also made that grain susceptible to fumonisin.


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