Ontario’s agriculture minister is asking the province’s corn growers who have high vomitoxin levels in their crop to focus efforts on harvesting their good corn first.
Late last week, Minister Ernie Hardeman called together industry stakeholders to look for solutions and creative ideas to help manage escalating mycotoxin levels in the crop that has turned harvest into a nightmare.
At the November 15 meeting, those attending were told that 35% to 40% of the provincial crop had been harvested. Of that harvested amount, 65% was considered good corn, while 35% of the crop tested high for DON levels (15% had DON ratings of 3 to 5 ppm, 10% had ratings of 5 to 8 ppm, and 10% was rated at 8 ppm or higher).
On Monday at the Ontario Federation of Agriculture annual meeting in Hamilton, Hardeman told reporters that the consensus coming out of the meeting was that growers should concentrate on harvesting good corn. “Get the combines out, combine the good corn, keep combining until the elevator says the levels are too high and then stop,” said Hardeman. “Then we are going to have to collectively decide what we are going to do with the rest of it.”
Hardeman says his roundtable meeting didn’t yield a solution to the problem, “but we did end up with a good discussion about what is possible and what isn’t.”
In this interview, Hardeman notes that ethanol production could be part of the solution if testing to be conducted this week shows that ethanol producers can process high-vomitoxin corn without compromising the safety of dry distillers grains used for animal feed.
If those tests are positive, there’s the potential that contaminated grain could be stored for ethanol production.
Hardeman also commented on storage, testing, and marketing actions that have been recommended by the Grain Farmers of Ontario (GFO). He noted that GFO’s commitment to invest $240,000 into a program to purchase grain baggers for temporary storage would certainly help if ethanol use is deemed part of the solution.