Posts filed under ‘corn’

Armyworm and Black Cutworm Moths Arriving in Ohio

-The following article was written by Ron Hammond, Andy Michel and Bruce Eisley
Reports from neighboring states suggest that moths of the true armyworm and black cutworm are now flying in the Midwest. While the black cutworm is a concern in corn, both wheat and corn are often attacked by the true armyworm. Corn is especially at risk from true armyworms when planted into rye cover crops. Armyworm is of most concern on wheat when feeding on the flag leaf. A fact sheet on armyworms on wheat is available at . Black cutworms will begin cutting corn in May, especially when the corn is planted into weedy fields, with chickweed being a preferred weed species; a fact sheet on black cutworm is at . Because the larvae of both these pests potentially could become concerns over the next month or two, growers should remain vigilant with both pests. Presently, none of the neighboring states are seeing large numbers of either insect; however, we will keep Ohio growers up-to-date on future happenings and need to sample.



April 30, 2010 at 10:20 am

Precautions for Handling Moldy Grain

Poor quality and mycotoxin infested grain is common this year with some growers reporting very low levels to very high levels.  Purdue University recently published a short article on grain safety handling:

Breathing grain dust is never healthy, and grain handlers should always wear protective masks when they work in grain bins, and when conducting operations that generate dust. Grain damaged by ear rots will have higher levels of dust and fines present, compared to good quality grain. Fungal spores produced by the ear rot fungi will also be in the grain dust. Fortunately, the fungus that causes Gibberella ear rot does not produce a lot of spores. However, there will certainly be spores of other molds in the grain dust. These spores can lead to allergic reactions, which may include flu-like symptoms, if workers do not take precautionary measures to protect themselves from exposure.

Simple safety procedures can be implemented to minimize exposure to grain dust and mold spores. When working with moldy grain, wear appropriate clothing such as long sleeves, pants, and gloves. A dust mask or respirator should also be worn to minimize inhalation risks. People who have a compromised immune system or respiratory ailments should avoid handling or working with moldy grain.

Full podcast here:


February 17, 2010 at 8:12 am

Agronomy Technology Day Planned

The Van Wert County Extension Office, in partnership with agribusinesses, will be hosting an Agronomy Technology Day on January 16, 8:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. at the Van Wert County Extension Office.

Farmers are invited to attend this free agronomy technology educational program. “The meeting will focus on several current agricultural topics as well as review some of the great research conducted at Farm Focus in 2009,” said Van Wert County Extension Educator Andy Kleinschmidt.

One of those hot topics that will be addressed is an update on the mold situation in corn. “The moldy grain issue is huge right now, and to address this issue OSU Pathologist Dr. Pierce Paul will provide a videocast update with the latest information on how to deal with moldy grain,” said Kleinschmidt.

Other topics to be covered include: foliar fertilizers and fungicides for corn and soybeans, Kixor herbicide update, marestail and giant ragweed control, corn and soybean seeding rates, and tillage.

This Agronomy Technology Day is free and open to the public. Lunch will be provided, so please RSVP to the Van Wert County Extension office at 419-238-1214 or by January 14.

Full podcast here:

January 5, 2010 at 3:49 pm

More Questions and Answers on Moldy Grain, Mycotoxins

Q. Why is there such a within load variation for vomitoxin ppm? For example, a load can test zero ppm at one elevator and 10 ppm at another elevator.

Response: Variability stems from the fact that there is variation in the number of ears infected within a field and, on any given ear, there is variation in the number of kernels infected, and even more, kernels with similar appearance in terms of moldiness on the surface, may have different levels of internal fungal colonization and consequently variation in mycotoxin contamination. In addition, healthy-looking kernels may also be contaminated with vomitoxin.  Variability is a major issue!!  Because of this variability, sampling needs to be done correctly in order to adequately determine the level of contamination. There are always “hot spots” within the grain lot and if you sample only once or a few time and end up doing so in those “hot spots” then you’ll overestimate how contaminated the grain lot really is. Conversely,  if you totally miss the hot spots then you’ll underestimate contamination. That’s the reason why we always recommend that multiple samples be taken from multiple locations within the lot, then bulk, mix and grind the grain before analysis.

We (OSU) have not used all of the testing equipments that are out there, but most of the highly recommend ones are fairly reliable and consistent. The kits that give you quantitative estimates (1,2,3,15,38 ppm) are generally better that the semi quantitative (more than 5 ppm) or qualitative (yes/no response) kits… but it all depends on what you are using the kit for. In general, the ELISA kits (most of the kits that are out there are ELISA-based) are calibrated against the more sophisticated quantitative lab equipment, and if used correctly (incorrect  use is another potential source of variation) should provide consistent results across elevators. However, test results from one elevator to another are also subject to variation in how the samples were drawn from one elevator to another. Unless the sampling is done correctly and in the same or a similar manner among elevators, it will be impossible to tell whether the differences (0 at one elevator and 10 at another) are due to differences among the testing equipments or to poor and inconsistent sampling protocols among elevators. In fact, the best way (but probably not the most practical) to compare elevators it to send subsamples from the same bulk sample for testing at the different elevators.


Q. For on-farm separation of mycotoxin infested corn from clean corn, would a gravity table work satisfactorily?

Response: Very moldy kernels are usually lighter than healthy, plump kernels, however, like I in the paragraph above, plump-looking kernels may also be contaminated with vomitoxin. Any method that can be used to remove moldy kernels will help to reduce the overall level of contamination of the lot… moldy kernels are always more contaminated that the most contaminated of the healthy-looking kernels.


Q. Is there a possibility of the probe itself being a cause for some of the variability in readings? Can the mycotoxin be transferred to clean corn from a probe?

Response: Although the probe can more the mycotoxin-producing fungus around, the probe is generally not a means by with the mycotoxin itself moves from contaminated to clean corn. If the corn is indeed clean (with little or no fungus) and stored correctly, then the small amount of fungal mycelium or spore carried on the probe should not be sufficient to cause major contamination of the healthy lot.  However, on the subject of cross contamination, it is never a bad practice to clean the probe before moving between lots or loads.

Part I of mycotoxin issues can be read at

Full podcast here:

December 31, 2009 at 7:30 am

Questions and Answers on Moldy Grain and Mycotoxins

The following article appeared in the Ohio State University Extension December 22, 2009 CORN Newsletter and was written by Pierce Paul, Katelyn Willyerd and Peter Thomison:

The 2009 corn crop is providing some challenge to grain users due to various levels of mycotoxins that are being found in individual lots of grain. According to some livestock operations and ethanol plants, levels of deoxynivalenol (vomitoxin) and zearalenone in 2009 crop are unprecedented. Grain deliveries have been rejected because of excessively high mycotoxin levels. Some ethanol plants are starting to discount grain at 3 ppm (vomitoxin), with rejection above 7 ppm. Although we’ve experienced localized problems with ear rots in Ohio in past years, the incidence and severity of ear rots and associated mycotoxins this year is more severe and widespread.

Q1. How bad was the mold and mycotoxin problem in 2009?

Abnormally cool and wet weather during and after silking provided optimal conditions for the development of Gibberalla ear rot that resulted in high levels of mycotoxins contamination of harvested grain.

The fungus Gibberella zeae causes ear rot of corn and head scab of wheat. The fungus produces mycotoxins, most notably vomitoxin (deoxynivalenol, DON) as it colonizes. In general, high levels of disease severity and moldy grain indicate high levels of toxin in susceptible varieties/hybrids. Once the crop has dried down (<20% moisture), fungal growth and vomitoxin production are reduced substantially. In harvested grain, vomitoxin is heat stable and water soluble and will survive many processing, baking and distilling procedures.

Q2. What is the impact of these ear rot mycotoxins?

The Gibberella ear rot fungus produces mycotoxins that are harmful to both humans and animals. These include deoxynivalenol (Vomitoxin) and zearalenone and T-2 toxin, all of which may cause health problems. Therefore, suspect grain should be tested for these mycotoxins by chemical analysis before being fed to animals. As a general rule do not feed any grain with 5% or more Gibberella moldy kernels. Hogs and young animals are particularly sensitive to these mycotoxins.

Sampling and testing of grain are necessary to determine that vomitoxin (deoxynivalenol or DON) is below advisory levels in products. The FDA has set the advisory levels to insure the safety of the food and feed supply. For bran, flour, and germ intended for human consumption at 1 ppm. For grain and grain by-products destined for ruminating beef and feedlot cattle older than four months and for chickens with the added recommendation that these ingredients not exceed 50% of the diet of cattle or chicken at 10 ppm. For grains and grain by-products destined for swine, and all others animals with the added recommendation that these ingredients not exceed 20% of the diet for swine and 40% of the diet for other animals set at 5 ppm.

Mycotoxins in corn are concentrated about three fold in dry distillers grains, i.e. during ethanol production, removing the starch from corn (the content of which can average about 60 percent) concentrates levels of these mycotoxins.

If growers were not aware of the moldy corn/mycotoxin problem at harvest more than likely the corn could have gone into the bin in poor conditions. If proper storage conditions were not maintained, the corn will come out of the bin in very bad, perhaps unmarketable, condition surprising the grower and affecting his bottom line significantly.

Q3. Procedures to sample grain lots for Vomitoxin.

Before pulling samples for toxin analysis, grain handlers should first protect themselves from dust and toxin exposure by wearing a mask, goggles and gloves. Careful attention to sampling, extraction and testing protocol should be followed to accurately measure vomitoxin accumulation in grain. Guidelines have been written based on research done with wheat and barley and are available at the United States Department of Agriculture Grain Inspection, Packers and Stockyards website at

To collect a representative sample from the bin or truckload of grain, 5-10 subsamples should be randomly collected from multiple locations. Samples taken only from the central or outer portions of the load or from the beginning and end of the grain stream will not provide an accurate estimate of toxin contamination. For end-gate sampling, sample from the entire width and depth of the stream. For probe sampling, use hand or mechanical probes to sample from the entire bin, in an “X”-shaped pattern, for example. The use of suction or air probes is not recommended when sampling grain for mycotoxins. Once subsamples are obtained, bulked, and cleaned, the grain must be ground uniformly, in a clean grinding apparatus, to resemble flour. Finer particle size increases surface area of the grain and allows for more efficient extraction of vomitoxin.

Q4. How and where to test for mycotoxins?

The most common test for vomitoxin is an ELISA test, which is based on the ability of toxin in the grain to bind to specific antibodies coating the specially-designed sample cups provided with the ELISA kit. These kits are very specific for the toxin being tested (vomitoxin in this case) and will not provide estimates of other toxins in the sample. There are separate kits for each toxin. ELISA-based tests are generally qualitative, providing a yes/no answer for the presence of DON, or semi-quantitative, giving an estimate of DON above certain levels or within a given range. However, quantitative estimates can also be obtained using some ELISA-based test. A color-change will be indicative of vomitoxin presence in the sample. To quantify toxin concentration an additional step of assessing color quality through a well reader or spectrophotometer is required. There is a relationship between the intensity of color in the sample cup and vomitoxin, as determined by a standard curve included in the kit. ELISA’s are easy, quick and affordable, but must be performed carefully to ensure quantifiable and accurate results. Due to the test’s specificity, you must use an ELISA kit specifically designed to detect vomitoxin. In addition, the ELISA kit must be approved for the substrate to be tested (corn, DDGs, wheat, etc).

Individuals who to know what the status of grain lots they have in storage maybe can work with grain handlers with the test or if they want to do there own analysis they can obtain ELISA kits . GIPSA has approved several different types of test kits that use either fluorescence or enzyme linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA) technology. The commercial testmethods approved by GIPSA for official testing of barley, malted barley, corn, oats, and wheat for DON are:

Biopharm – RidaScreen Fast SC for registered users only
Charm Science – Rosa Don P/N,en/
Diachemix -DON FPA
Diagnostix – EZ- Quant, EZ- Tox
Neogen- 5/5, Agriscreen, Veratox
Romer – Accutox, Fluoroquant
Strategic Diagnostic Inc – Myco,
Vicam – Don FQ

A listing of Laboratories who will test for deoxynivalenol or DON, T-2 which are all terms for the group of toxin of concern can be found at:

December 24, 2009 at 8:30 am

Mycotoxin Management in Corn

The following article was written by Bruce Clevenger and Chris Zoller, OSU Extension Educators, for the December issue of the Ohio Ag Manager:

Many corn growers across Ohio are dealing with corn that is still high in moisture and some elevators are rejecting corn because of mycotoxin levels that are not safe to feed to livestock. The most common mycotoxin being detected above critical use levels is Deoxynivalenol (vomitoxin, DON). Some farmers are reporting variations across fields and within the same fields. A combination of late planting, cool temperatures and varieties are contributing to the mold and poor grain quality.

Go to to view recommendations published by Purdue University Extension for harvesting, storing, drying, feeding and marketing wet corn. If you have additional questions, consult with your OSU Extension Educator, nutritionist, veterinarian, or crop consultant.

Internet based video presentations have been developed from Purdue University and the University of Illinois. They have been archived and can be viewed at the following addresses:

Purdue University: Managing the 2009 Harvest

University of Illinois : Wet Corn Strategies and Alternatives (feeding recommendations)

Full podcast here:

December 16, 2009 at 8:35 am

Kixor Based Products

BASF has introduced three new products based on a broad-spectrum broadleaf weed herbicide, Kixor (saflufenacil). The three new products include: Integrity, a premix of dimethenamid (Outlook) and saflufenacil for field corn and popcorn; Sharpen, which contains just saflufenacil and is labeled for corn, soybeans, and wheat; and Optill, a premix of saflufenacil and imazethapyr (Pursuit) for soybeans.

For soybeans, Sharpen is labeled at the rate of only 1 oz/A, because soybeans have less tolerance compared with corn. The lower rates for soybeans result in reduced residual broadleaf weed control, to the point that Sharpen should not be expected to provide substantial residual broadleaf weed control unless mixed with another residual herbicide.

Sharpen has activity on emerged weeds in addition to preemergence activity, and is apparently being promoted as a replacement for 2,4-D ester in preplant burndown treatments. OSU research shows that while Sharpen applied alone has some foliar activity, it will not adequately control emerged weeds in no-till fields unless mixed with another herbicide that has effective foliar activity (glyphosate, Ignite), and is likely to contribute more activity on annual weeds than on biennials or perennials.

Sharpen does have considerable activity on marestail, and while OSU needs additional data in this area, mixtures of Sharpen with glyphosate or Ignite have effectively controlled marestail. This provides an option for burndown of marestail (and other weeds) in fields where a grower is unable or unwilling to wait 7 days between application and planting. BASF is apparently positioning the combination of Sharpen, glyphosate, and Scepter as a replacement for combinations of glyphosate, 2,4-D ester, and other broadleaf PRE herbicides such as Valor XLT, Sonic, etc. in fields with marestail.

This article was condensed from the November 24, 2009 CORN newsletter at:

Full podcast here:

November 25, 2009 at 9:00 am

2010 Ohio Corn, Soybean and Wheat Enterprise Budgets

This article was written by Barry Ward, Production Business Management, OSU Department of Agricultural, Environmental, and Development Economics:

Budgeting helps guide you through your decision making process as you attempt to commit resources to the most profitable enterprises on the farm. Crops or Livestock? Corn, Soybeans, or Wheat? We can begin to answer these questions with well thought out budgets that include all revenue and costs. Without some form of budgeting and some method to track your enterprises’ progress you’ll have difficulty determining your most profitable enterprise(s) and if you’ve met your goals for the farm.

Budgeting is often described as “penciling it out” before committing resources to a plan. Ohio State University Extension has had a long history of developing “Enterprise Budgets” that can be used as a starting point for producers in their budgeting process.

Newly updated Enterprise Budgets for 2010 have been completed and posted to the Farm Management Website of the Department of Agricultural, Environmental and Development Economics. Updated Enterprise Budgets can be viewed and downloaded from the following website:

Enterprise Budgets updated so far for 2010 include: Corn-Conservation Tillage; Soybeans-No-Till (Roundup Ready); Wheat-Conservation Tillage, (Grain & Straw).

Our enterprise budgets are compiled on downloadable Excel Spreadsheets that contain macros for ease of use. Users can input their own production and price levels to calculate their own numbers. These Enterprise Budgets have a new look with color coded cells that will enable users to plug in numbers to easily calculate bottoms lines for different scenarios. Detailed footnotes are included to help explain methodologies used to obtain the budget numbers. Starting this year we will be updating these Enterprise Budgets periodically during the year is large changes occur in price or costs. Budgets will include a date in the upper right hand corner of the front page indicating when the last update occurred.

November 2, 2009 at 9:05 am

Corn with Mold: Which Mold is it and How to Handle

The following article was sourced from material developed by Gene McCluer, OSU Extension; Purdue University Professor Richard Stroshine; and the October 12, 2009 CORN Newsletter.

Farmers across Ohio are finding mold on corn in some fields this year. Both Diplodia and Gibberella molds have been reported, and they may cause challenges in grain handling and storage this year.  The cool, wet weather over the past month has prolonged conditions favorable for ear mold growth. At this point in the season, producers should scout remaining fields of corn and take note of areas and hybrids with ear rot problems. If Gibberella is present and the crop is insured, contact your insurance provider before harvesting the field to determine if adjustments are needed.

Generally, it is fairly easy to tell ear rots apart based on the color of the fungal growth on the ear, how the mold develops, and how the moldy kernels are distributed on the ear:

  • With Gibberella ear rot, a pinkish mold starting at the tip and progressing toward the base of the ear is very typical of this disease.
  • Fusarium ear rot also causes pinkish discoloration of infected kernels, however, with Fusarium ear rot the pink moldy kernels are usually scattered all over the ear. As the disease develops, the infected kernels may become tan or brown or have white streaks.
  • Diplodia on the other hand causes a thick white mold to grow on the ear, usually starting from the base and progressing toward the tip. As the disease develops, the entire husk becomes bleached, covered with whitish-gray mold, and glued to the kernels.

There are no mycotoxins known to be associated with Diplodia ear mold, but there is a big concern with Gibberella ear mold. It can produce high levels of the mycotoxin DON (also known as vomitoxin). Early reports indicate that levels in corn grain range from 0.2 to 8 ppm, of this mycotoxin, and that can be a concern if grain is to be used for livestock feed. Zearalenone, also produced by this ear rot fungus, has estrogenic properties, which lead to infertility, abortion, or other livestock breeding problems. As little as 1 to 5 ppm zearalenone in a feed ration may produce an estrogenic effect in swine.

Purdue University professor, Richard Stroshine a said that if farmers try to operate like they normally do during harvest this year, the mold could cause some major problems during the storage of this year’s crop. Stroshine offers tips and advice for farmers in the Eastern Cornbelt who are dealing with Diplodia, Gibberella and other corn ear rots. Farmers who have moldy corn should remove as much of the fine material or broken pieces of corn as possible before storage. Use the combine’s full capabilities to help get rid of the fine material, and utilize high capacity screen cleaners as the corn enters the grain handling system. If fines aren’t removed from the grain, they will reduce airflow (primarily in the center of the bin) and promote the growth of mold within the grain. Proper aeration will help maintain even grain temperatures throughout the grain mass. Plan to dry the grain down to 14 to 14.5 percent moisture, but realize it’s not going to store as well as it has in previous years.

Even though it may slow down harvest, Stroshine recommends drying corn to below 15 percent moisture as soon as possible to help prevent any further mold issues.

Farmers may want to mix the corn with high levels of mold with their good corn, but Stroshine suggests segregating the good corn from the bad for storage. It should be handled separately, then if needed, the producer can blend it later to meet the marketing standards.

For more information on corn ear molds, see the OSU/OARDC Plant Pathology website at:

Also see the Purdue website about Gibberella ear mold at:


Gibberella ear rot:

  • Pinkish mold starting at the tip and progressing toward the base of the ear
  • mycotoxins a concern

Fusarium ear rot:

  • Pinkish or tan moldy kernels scattered on the ear.

Diplodia ear rot:

  • White mold growth starting at the base and moving up the ear
  • Husk glued to kernels
  • Lightweight ears
  • no mycotoxins

Full podcast:

    October 28, 2009 at 1:00 pm 1 comment

    Graphical Display of Major US Crops, 2009

    Please click on the image for a larger view:

    Major US Crops

    October 5, 2009 at 1:00 pm 4 comments

    Older Posts


    This blog is no longer being maintained. Information on this blog may still be relevant, but for the latest agronomic information and farm management information please visit and, respectively.

    %d bloggers like this: