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2023 harvest: Early insights into Europe’s mycotoxin landscape

2023 harvest: Early insights into Europe’s mycotoxin landscape

Testing reveals rising mycotoxin risks across Europe in 2023

As producers in Europe navigate the complexities of an ever-changing climate, a growing body of evidence underscores the critical role that climate variability plays in shaping mycotoxin landscapes — and risks — across regions.  


Contrasting conditions highlight mycotoxin risks  

In Europe, the stark contrast between the 2022 and 2023 growing seasons has been evident. A drought-stricken 2022 was followed by a wetter climate in 2023 and further divided between northern and southern regions. To navigate these fluctuating conditions effectively, innovative tools and services like CropProphet are extremely beneficial. CropProphet is a weather-driven grain yield forecasting system designed to help global agriculture industry participants with an interest in grain quality and yield.  

Southern Europe, including areas such as Spain and Greece, experienced a prolonged period of increased rainfall following a prior dry spell that impacted winter crops in Spain from January to May. This raises concerns about an upswing in Fusarium mould and mycotoxin production within corn crops in these areas. Meanwhile, Northern Europe, including Scandinavia and the Baltic states, has also witnessed a surplus of moisture, leading to a delayed harvest and more opportunities for mould development.  

Central and Western Europe, on the other hand, have largely maintained normal or slightly above-normal precipitation levels. However, this seemingly favourable condition may not be without its challenges. In Denmark, for example, higher precipitation levels are leading to mycotoxin concerns as late-season rainfall intersects with drought-affected crops, including wheat and barley. 

In fact, preliminary data from the Alltech 2023 European Harvest Analysis suggests that mycotoxin risk — particularly from small grains, straw, and forages like grass silage and corn silage — is higher than in previous years, across all animal species. The primary culprits are type B trichothecenes, other Penicillium mycotoxins, type A trichothecenes and zearalenone. Emerging mycotoxins top the list, with 91.1% of samples testing positive for these. The average number of mycotoxins per sample is 4.4, and 92% of samples contain two or more mycotoxins. Notably, this data shows the highest concentration of DON in barley, at 14,074 ppb. 

What is the Alltech Harvest Analysis?  

The Alltech Harvest Analysis, a decade-long global initiative, is a comprehensive step in understanding the complexities of new crop quality and mycotoxin prevalence worldwide. The programme 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. In Europe, Alltech partners with SGS to create a truly complete picture of mycotoxin risk across the continent: the Alltech 2023 European Harvest Analysis. 

Empowering predictive insights with Wageningen University 

Alltech is involved in further mycotoxin mitigation initiatives as well. For instance, on April 1, 2023, a four-year project started with the aim of developing an early warning system regarding the presence of mycotoxins in cereal grains in Europe.   

The Wageningen University consortium will play a significant role in improving predictive capabilities related to mycotoxin risk. Using advanced technologies such as AI and machine learning, this initiative, in which Alltech is actively participating, aims to enhance predictive models for crop quality and mycotoxin occurrence. This collaboration will put the industry on a better trajectory to anticipate and mitigate risks, further empowering producers to make proactive decisions in response to changing climate patterns and mycotoxin risk.  

Looking ahead 

As samples are tested and the 2023 European Harvest Analysis progresses across key grain-growing regions in the coming months, the European agriculture industry can anticipate a wealth of insights that will shape upcoming decisions about feed and livestock production. This programme holds the promise of refining our understanding of mycotoxin dynamics and their broader implications worldwide. 

For more information on the Alltech 2023 European Harvest Analysis methodology and the insights that will be derived from this innovative programme, please visit the registration page here.