A mycotoxin is a naturally occurring chemical that is produced by fungi growing on grain. One of the most common mycotoxins in Texas is aflatoxin, a fungus that was identified in the 1960s. Grain elevators test for levels of aflatoxin before accepting loads of corn, because the higher the level, the more limited the use is for the affected corn.
In this week’s From The Ground Up, Bob French says Mother Nature produced circumstances this year that put some farmers’ corn crops at risk.
“Clean corn would be corn that had less than 20 parts per billion of aflatoxin. We take crop insurance. Our crop insurance adjuster will zero a field out if our field was over 300.”
Bell county farmer James Kamas said that prior to harvesting , crop insurance adjusters took field samples.
“I think it is hard to find loads that were under 20. There were a lot of fields that were over 500. I would say that typically it’ll run from what I’ve seen and heard, anywhere from 100 to about 250, maybe 300. I had a field that tested 1400.”
The late June and early July rains were too late to help the corn, but it did trigger an outbreak of the fungus which can occur when the corn plant has been under stress.
“It was probably present when we were in our drought situation, then we got our rains and it just flourished because it will grow in moist conditions like that.”
Crop diversification prevented the year from being an economic train wreck.
“We probably made as much as we can reasonably expect from our oat crop. We raise seed oats, and then we probably had the best wheat yield we’ve ever had. Grain sorghum was very good. Corn was a disaster.”
If you like hard work, and aren’t afraid of a gamble, farming could be for you.