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Mycotoxin Vulnerabilities in a Changing Climate: A Comprehensive Overview

October 3, 2023
Mycotoxins are hidden in your crop and will impact your animals health.

As the agricultural industry navigates the complexities of the ever-changing climate, the impact on crop quality and mycotoxin presence remains a subject of close examination.

A comparison of the 2022 and 2023 growing seasons in North America and Europe reveals a dynamic landscape with varying conditions and potential consequences for the feed and livestock industry.

The Alltech Harvest Analysis, a decade-long initiative, is a comprehensive step in understanding the complexities of new crop quality and mycotoxin prevalence. The program captures trends and enables robust data comparisons across years and regions. This analysis plays a pivotal role in empowering feed and livestock producers with the knowledge they need to make informed decisions.

With collaborators like SGS, Stratford Ontario and Masterfeeds, the program boasts a diverse pool of internal and external data sources, ensuring a representative snapshot of the global grain trade. This connection extends benefits to feed and livestock producers in regions like Asia, where the quality of imported grains significantly influences overall production.

Challenges in America and Canada 

Both North America and Canada have grappled with diverse and challenging weather patterns that have significant implications for agriculture. In Canada, Southern Ontario and Quebec have endured an extended period of above-average rainfall spanning August and September, raising concerns about the heightened potential for elevated levels of Fusarium mold and mycotoxin production in small grains and corn crops.

In contrast, the western provinces of Canada, where a substantial portion of wheat and barley production is concentrated, have experienced below-normal precipitation levels, posing a considerable challenge to these crops. Of particular concern is the risk of late-season rainfall coinciding with drought-affected crops, which could increase mycotoxin production.

Meanwhile, a range of distinct weather patterns has created unique challenges in the United States. Southern states have witnessed an extended period of above-average rainfall in August and September, which may bring a heightened risk of Fusarium mold and mycotoxin production.

Conversely, in the northern states, there has been a precipitation deficit, presenting significant obstacles to wheat and soybean production. The potential intersection of late-season rainfall with drought-affected crops is a concern here as well, as this could result in elevated mycotoxin levels and carry potential repercussions for both local and national agricultural yields.

Preliminary harvest analysis data does suggest a correlation between regional rainfall patterns and mycotoxin risk. As more data is analyzed, this picture will become clearer, for a comprehensive understanding. Thus far, areas with higher rainfall appear to be at greater risk of Fusarium mycotoxins. Looking ahead it is likely that the eastern US will face heightened risk, primarily attributed to type B trichothecenes, in both corn silage and corn grain. 

Image 2

Figure 2: Preliminary 2023 Harvest Analysis data, a summary of United States corn, corn silage and fresh corn silage for dairy cows, detailing mycotoxin concentrations (ppb), occurrence (%) and total risk (REQ) for selected samples.

The diverse weather challenges faced across these regions underscores the need for accurate insights, such as those provided by the Alltech Harvest Analysis program.

While data from both regions only offers an early insight into the overall risk, it will be interesting to see how this develops as the Harvest Analysis program continues.

Looking ahead

As samples are tested and the Harvest Analysis progresses across key grain-growing regions, the industry can anticipate a wealth of insights that will shape upcoming decisions about feed and livestock production. The full Harvest Analysis program holds the promise of refining our understanding of mycotoxin dynamics and their broader implications.

The ongoing Alltech Harvest Analysis, bolstered by collaboration and innovative technologies, offers comprehensive insights into an increasingly complex climate.

For more information and insights that will be derived from this innovative program, talk with your Alltech representative.

Author:​ Chloe Chisholm, Digital Marketing Specialist, Alltech Mycotoxin Management