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An initial look at crop quality and mycotoxin risk in Europe

A growing season once again dominated by extreme weather 

Many crop growers are now beginning to wonder whether prolonged droughts and sudden flash floods are the new normal in Europe, with average summer temperatures on the continent being the highest on record this year. Such conditions are significantly affecting both crop yield and quality across Europe. France’s wheat crop dropped by 20%, while corn producers in Italy’s Po Valley watched their crops wither during the worst drought that region has experienced in 70 years. 

Testing is underway for the Alltech 2022 European Harvest Analysis 

With the European wheat and barley harvest completed ahead of schedule this year, the Alltech 37+® mycotoxin analysis laboratory at Dunboyne, Ireland, has been testing samples that are arriving weekly. Some of the early findings include: 

  • Wheat and barley samples tested so far contain 3.6 mycotoxins, on average 

  • Two or more mycotoxins were detected in 97% of samples 

  • Emerging mycotoxins, Type A and Type B trichothecenes, and ergot toxins are the most prevalent mycotoxins detected 

  • The highest concentration of ergot alkaloids (2,891 ppb) was found in barley harvested in Germany 

Straw continues to demonstrate a higher risk 

Straw testing in Denmark continues to increase as the risk attached to this feed and bedding material becomes more evident. So far: 

  • Over 55% of samples are deemed higher risk using Alltech’s Risk Equivalent Quantity (REQ) metric 

  • Type B trichothecenes present the greatest challenge  

  • The average concentration of DON was 1,727 ppb, with a maximum of 6,239 ppb detected 

Early signs of aflatoxin risk in corn 

Our collaboration with SGS has given us an early indication of corn quality from Southeastern Europe. Although harvest is only getting started, early signs suggest aflatoxin contamination is a concern, likely driven by the long periods of drought. These include: 

  • Levels of up to 77.39 ppb of aflatoxin B1 have been detected, while the average is 15.7 ppb 

  • Five corn samples collected in this region exceeded the European aflatoxin B1 regulation for animal feed (>20 ppb)