Concerns raised about mycotoxins in wheat east of Mississippi

Following a rainy season, the wheat harvest east of the Mississippi is behind schedule, meaning it is more subject to deoxynivalenol (DON) than usual, according to Max Hawkins, a nutritionist in Lexington, Kentucky.

Hawkins works with Alltech’s mycotoxin management team, and explains that DON is produced by Fusarium garminareum mold—the same mold that produces Fusarium head blight, more commonly called scab.

Despite this, experts say that farmers in the Upper Great Plains “probably have little to fear from concerns about toxins in soft red winter wheat east of the Mississippi River,” according to AgWeek.

Fusarium gaminareum appears under specific conditions, including when relative humidity is more than 90% and temperatures are between 50–85°F (10–29.4°C), Hawkins said. Reports of DON levels have appeared across the U.S. recently.

Joel Ransom, an agronomist for cereal crops at North Dakota State University’s Extension Service agrees somewhat with expert predictions, saying that conditions are favorable for DON in some crops, but that depends on locale.

However, Ransom adds, there is far less disease pressure in spring wheat—the region’s big wheat crop.

“It headed later and the environment was less conducive to scab development,” Ransom said in the AgWeek article. “Two weeks of really dry weather has helped, and what was flowered during that period is going to be almost at no risk.”

Soft red winter wheat is used to make cakes, pastries, flatbreads and crackers.

To learn more about mycotoxin levels across the U.S., watch our weekly mycotoxin reports.

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