Managing Corn Tainted by Aflatoxin

Virgil Schmitt, Crops Field Specialist, Southeast
 

Problem Statement: 

East-central and southeast Iowa were affected by a severe drought in 2005.  In such years, corn in the field may be infected by a mold called Aspergillus flavus , which, under the right conditions, can produce a highly carcinogenic mycotoxin called aflatoxin.  The tolerance for aflatoxin in corn for general commerce is 20 parts per billion.  Aflatoxin had not been an issue since the drought of 1988.  Producers, crop insurance companies, and grain elevators were struggling to deal with sometimes conflicting rules, regulations, and information while trying to keep the harvest moving.
 
Programmatic Response: 

Iowa State University Extension updated the printed materials related to aflatoxin.  The Iowa Grain Quality Initiative and the East-central and Southeast Iowa Crops web sites carried this and other relevant information.  Extensive use of media and private industry was used to get the information out.  A working meeting was held, involving producers, elevator operators, crop insurance companies, crop insurance adjusters, state and federal legislators, the Risk Management Agency, and the Farm Services Agency, to identify roadblocks preventing harvest from having a more normal rhythm.
 
Impact/Outcome: 

Harvest was completed in a mostly timely manner.  However, many issues regarding the insurance industrys and the grain marketing systems inability to deal with mycotoxins were exposed.  As a result, the Food and Drug Administration, Risk Management Agency, Grain Inspection, Packers and Stockyards Administration, and the US Congressional Delegation have all expressed an interest in traveling to eastern Iowa to meet with producers, elevator operators, insurance adjusters, insurance agents, and grain processors to arrive at improved procedures for dealing with mycotoxins that will meet the needs of all concerned.  This will occur on April 19, 2006.
 

March 10, 2006
142 - Integrated Pest and Crop Management

Page last updated: July 9, 2006
Page maintained by Linda Schultz, lschultz@iastate.edu