If you plan to store corn this year, you might want to brush up on your storage management.
Careful storage of corn and corn silage will be even more important this year than last, even though mycotoxin contamination in many areas of the country is not as severe as last year.
"There will be a large amount of grain stored on farm this year," says Max Hawkins, Ph.D. nutritionist with Alltech, a global animal health and nutrition company based in Nicholasville, Ky. "Prices are not as good, and producers have a lot more storage available. A lot of storage has been built in the past few years."
Over the past couple of years, a lot of corn was sold at harvest, so producers need to brush up on their storage management.
"As corn goes into storage at 14% moisture, the moisture content of the corn can vary between 13 and 20 percent moisture," says Hawkins.
Producers will have to monitor the temperature and measure the moisture level in their stored grain or pockets of corn will spoil due to penicillium mycotoxins.
"Producers really need to stay on top of it," he adds.
Alltech’s annual Harvest Analysis North America (HANA) survey has already tested more than 10 samples of corn and corn silage from across the United States and corn and wheat from Canada. So far all of the samples have tested positive for multiple mycotoxins, demonstrating the importance of managing for mycotoxins this year, according to Alltech.
"Despite more rainfall across the Corn Belt and yields pushing record production, farmers must consider quality rather than quantity," the company says in a press release.
Most of the corn for grain samples were taken from the Corn Belt, while the corn silage samples represent the major dairy-producing regions of the country including California, Idaho, the Upper Midwest, and the Northeast.
"Last year, there was heavy mycotoxin contamination everywhere," says Hawkins. "This year some areas are as heavily contaminated as last year and some areas are not as heavily contaminated. I have doubts as how this crop will store, though. Certainly there is some risk associated with this year’s crop as we move forward and get it stored."
The most heavily contaminated regions for corn silage are the Mid-Atlantic, Northeast, and Upper Midwest and the most prominent mycotoxin is Fumonisin followed by Fusaric Acid and Type B Trichothecenes.
"We continue to get samples in," says Hawkins. "Samples are now coming in from the eastern Corn Belt and they look as bad, if not worse, than last year."
The company found Type B Trichothecenes present at low risk levels in both corn silage and corn grain in the average sample. Many producers could consider these low-risk levels safe, but the second most prevalent mycotoxin was Fusaric Acid. "Fusaric Acid will act synergistically with DON (Deoxynivalenol) to magnify the effects of DON," Alltech says in its press release.