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Finding alternative uses for DON corn

Finding alternative uses for DON corn

The industry seeks salvage options for compromised grain in hopes of avoiding the need to destroy it

Staff Writer
Ontario corn producers are concerned about finding a market for their grain, given the elevated levels of DON in the crop.
DON corn is harmful to livestock, particularly pigs, and producers cannot feed animals corn with high DON levels without following significant blending or additive processes.
Alternative options for DON corn exist, however, said a Wednesday OMAFRA field crop news report
One option is for farmers to store the grain until the 2018 harvest is complete. The industry will be able to develop a stronger understanding of this year’s crop quality by storing grain until harvest is finished. This strategy may open up market opportunities for lower-quality grain once pressures diminish. 
Producers can clean grain with gravity-based or rotary screen type cleaners to help reduce mycotoxin levels in corn with lower to moderate DON levels. The “resulting high-DON screenings will be lower volume and easier to deal with than the entire grain mass,” the report said.
Combining a crop with DOM requires diligence, Melody Robinson, a field agronomist and CCA with Clark Agri Service, told
“We’re telling our farmers to be diligent when they’re combining to have a look at their fields, especially now that we have even more moisture. Open up the combines and make sure the settings are fairly aggressive,” she explained. 
“What we’re finding in our fields is that just the very tips are infected and those are typically your smallest kernels. So, if you set your screens to be fairly aggressive on the combine, you can blow out a lot of that infected material.” 
The industry could use DON corn as feedstock for anaerobic biodigesters. However, digesters that can handle grain corn in the province are limited. Prior to using the corn in the digester, the operator needs to grind the crop, or otherwise, kernels will fall to the bottom of the digester. 
While producers may think of ethanol plants as viable options for their crops, the distillation process elevates DON levels in the dried distillers grains (DDGs) three times higher than those of the original grain. As DDGs are used in livestock feed, heightened DON levels could cause the DDGs to become unfit for sale.  
DON corn could be burned to produce heat. Corn is a cheaper heating fuel than propane or heating oil, but specialized equipment is necessary.
For producers with large amounts of compromised grain, crop destruction may be the most logical option. If ground up and spread on the field, grain holds substantial fertilizer value. 
For further information regarding ear mould and mycotoxin, visit the Crop Protection Network Website.
fotokostic/iStock/Getty Images Plus photo


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