Corn School: Testing gibberella samples accurately

Prototype corn grinder for mycotoxin testing

It appears in 2022 that Ontario growers have little to worry about when it comes to corn ear moulds such as gibberella contributing to elevated levels of mycotoxins in the corn crop.

In late October, the annual Ontario corn ear mould and deoxynivalenol (DON) mycotoxin survey found 98 percent of samples tested low — less that 2.00 ppm — for DON, suggesting levels are lower than long-term survey averages. But every year is different. Growers across the province will remember 2018 when gibberella ear rot was widespread in Ontario and testing for mycotoxins at the elevator proved to be a real challenge.

On this episode of RealAgriculture Corn School, OMAFRA plant pathologist Albert Tenuta and University of Guelph associate professor David Hooker look back at the difficulties high mycotoxin levels created in 2018, including the significant variability in corn samples tested for mycotoxins as loads were received at elevators across the province.

Tenuta and Hooker note the research work led by long-time University of Guelph professor Art Schaafsma to better understand the source of the variability and identify solutions. In their investigation, Schaafsma and his team discovered that most of the variability could be linked to the grinding of very small samples of corn for DON testing. In some cases only 50 grams of a 2 kg sample was ground for testing.

To address the problem, researchers, engineers and industry have developed a prototype grinder that can grind a complete 2 kg sample in 60 to 90 seconds so accurate load samples can be produced quickly and efficiently.

In the video, Tenuta and Hooker demonstrate how the grinder works and note that the prototype will be widely tested this year during corn harvest.

Click here for more Corn School episodes.

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