As in previous years, the OMAFRA Field Crops team completed a survey of the 2012 Ontario corn crop to determine ear mould incidence as well as the occurrence of mycotoxins in the grain. These mycotoxins, particularly vomitoxin (DON) produced primarily by Gibberella/Fusarium ear moulds can be disruptive when fed to livestock, especially hogs.
The concern in the United States surrounding another mycotoxin “aflatoxin” has not gone unnoticed in Ontario and as a result OMAFRA and the Grains Farmers of Ontario (GFO) decided to test for aflatoxins this year as well. In corn aflatoxin is produced by the fungal pathogen Aspergillus flavus which causes Aspergillus ear rot. The hot dry conditions across much of the corn growing area of North America has been favourable for Aspergillus ear rot and unfortunately aflatoxin production as well. In Ontario, environmental conditions are often more favourable for Gibberella, Fusarium, Diplodia and other ear rots rather than Aspergillus. Although Aspergillus ear rot and aflatoxin production is rare in Ontario corn, OMAFRA determined due to the concern this year to test for aflatoxin as well.