Keep an eye on grain this fall. As harvest continues around the state, farmers are encouraged to be aware of the potential for development of molds and fungus in corn. The concern is not only for crop farmers, but for those feeding corn to livestock. Pork producers whose corn fields experienced hail late this summer should be monitoring grain for contamination and either avoid feeding contaminated grain to pigs or explore alternative strategies for utilizing this corn in their feeding programs.

Also, it’s recommended that suspect fields be harvested as early as possible because molds and toxins worsen as they remain in the field. Normally, there is no increase as grain is stored. The presence of mycotoxins in corn can have long-term effects, including effects on sell weights of pigs a year or more in the future. Being aware of any contamination in corn or feed stocks now also can help producers better plan for the financial uncertainty of grain markets, he said.

Late summer reports of lower yields for the 2011 crop and record low 2010 ending stocks may force grain prices to new highs and mean additional higher pressures on cost of production and lower returns. The IPIC publication, “Mycotoxin Contamination of Corn:What it is, what it does to pigs, and what can be done about it” (IPIC12) is a great informationsource on molds and fungus.

Written by ISU swine nutrition specialist John Patience andclinician Steve Ensley with ISU’s Veterinary Diagnostic and Production Animal Medicine department, it’s available to download at no charge from the IPIC website.