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What is the mycotoxin risk from harvest 2022?

Author: Martin Minchin, Mycotoxin Management Marketing Manager | Alltech 

Click below to listen to the Mycotoxin Matters podcast episode with Dr. Radka Borutova and Dr. Max Hawkins, hosted by Nick Adams. In this episode, they discuss the 2022 Alltech Harvest Analysis programme and the insights that can be gleaned from the results, in relation to mycotoxin risk. You can also listen to the episode on Apple Podcasts or Spotify. You can find an edited transcript at the bottom of the page. 

Over the past few months, Alltech field teams have been actively working with their customers and partners to assess what is the mycotoxin risk attached to new crop grains and forages coming out of harvest 2022. With harvest analysis programs being carried out across multiple regions globally, the results empower feed and livestock producers with the most up to date and timely insights as they consider their ingredient purchasing and animal nutrition decisions during the coming year. Depending on the region and ingredient being assessed, the choice of test method may vary between:

Alltech 37+®: LCMS-MS based testing that can identify up to 54 individual mycotoxins in grains, forages and finished feeds

Alltech RAPIREAD®: Lateral flow-based testing that can detect the presence of 6 key mycotoxins in individual grains or forages

To enhance the robustness of the mycotoxin testing program in Europe, we have partnered with SGS, one of the world’s largest testing and certification bodies to conduct mycotoxin analysis on corn samples in Central and Southeastern Europe.

As we often see, weather is typically the most dominant factor influencing mycotoxin contamination patterns, and with more and more extremes weather events occurring, producers must be more vigilant than ever.


Drought impacts once again dominated the harvest analysis in Europe, manifesting in significantly reduced yields and elevated levels of aflatoxins in corn and corn silage from Central and Southern areas. In countries such as Hungary, Serbia and Romania, many corn samples exceeded the 20ppb EU regulatory limit for animal feeds, posing a particular concern for dairy producers due to the risk of residue transfer in their milk supply. After successive years of extreme heat across the continent, many producers are now wondering if this level of risk is the new normal. Although 100% of wheat and barley samples contained mycotoxins, the levels are much lower than those found in corn. On average, wheat and barley samples contained 3.7 mycotoxins each. Forages such as corn silage and grass silage are universally higher-risk, driven by the presence of Penicillium toxins. Straw samples from Denmark are heavily contaminated with type B – trichothecenes, a concern for swine producers in particular, where straw is compulsory as a bedding material for welfare purposes. In dairy settings, straw is also often used in dry cows diets and as a starter feed for young calves.


Between corn silage and corn grain, over 400 new harvest samples have been tested in the US. Mycotoxin risk has tracked generally weather patterns, as conditions from West to East got wetter, the risk increased in parallel. Emerging mycotoxins and type B – trichothecenes dominate the silage samples. On average, each sample contains 7.3 mycotoxins and when Alltech’s *Risk Equivalent Quantity (REQ) is applied, the overall risk is moderate to dairy and beef animals. Corn samples contain similar mycotoxin profiles, with the overall REQ risk being deemed higher for many of the animal groups. In corn, the majority of the risk coming is coming from DON, with average levels of almost 1,700ppb. Pets have been included in the assessment for the first time this year with a higher risk noted for this group. An interesting insight in the US data are the mycotoxin levels in samples taken at different time periods during harvest. The average level of DON doubled in samples tested from November harvested grain, compared to grain that was harvested and tested in October. Knowing when corn was harvested could prove extremely useful when deciding upon the purchase or implementation of mycotoxin screening programs over the coming months.


After successive years of poor yields, Canada needed a good harvest, and 2022 delivered with it being described as a ‘’bin buster’’ by some. This year’s Canadian harvest program was a ONE Alltech collaboration, involving Alltech teams in each of the provinces, the Alltech Masterfeeds feed mill network and Stratford Agri Analysis in Ontario. With this approach, over 800 samples of grains and forages were tested. DON, zearalenone and T2/HT2 are the most detected toxins in Canada, with some regions also finding aflatoxin in forages. Similar to other regions, wheat and barley samples will have lower mycotoxin occurrence, but where present DON and ZEA can be at levels that pose a risk, in particular to pigs. Corn in Manitoba had a 50% occurrence of ZEA, while in Ontario there was an 85% occurrence of DON with average levels deemed high. In forages such as barley silage and corn silage, high mycotoxin occurrence is common, with regions like Ontario and Quebec also suffering higher average concentrations of DON (1846 to 1992 ppb average; maximum 10399 ppb).


A year that promised so much for Indian corn producers turned out to be much the opposite when crops begun to be harvested. Fertiliser shortages, extreme rainfall and pest damage all played a role in driving down the yield and quality of both the earlier and later harvests (Rabi and Kharif). The Alltech Indian team take a unique approach to their harvest analysis, travelling through the key grain growing regions, interviewing crop producers, taking grain samples and visiting the trading centres (Mundees). In addition to the mycotoxin testing, the team also conduct mold, protein, moisture and broken grains assessments. In both Rabi and Kharif samples, over 80 per cent of samples exceeded the desired mold count. These high mold levels are reflected in the subsequent results of the mycotoxin analysis. Using Alltech RAPIREAD® to analyse the corn, the primary toxins of concern are aflatoxins, DON and zearalenone. Each of the corn samples assessed contained multiple mycotoxins, and the overall REQ for poultry layers is moderate in corn from both harvests.


Favorable conditions throughout the growing season delivered high yields in Southern and Western Australia, the second highest on record. Unfortunately in Eastern states, a wet finish with late rains and floods, accompanied with cool temperatures, resulted in widespread crop losses and low protein and test weights in the harvested crops.


High moisture grains are posing a risk for increased levels of mold growth during storage and mycotoxin readings of Zearalenone, DON and Aflatoxin at the time of harvest are notably higher compared to 2021. The effects of flooding has significantly reduced hay production and delayed the start of summer crop production. The moisture has also resulted in low quality hay, and increased the threat of mycotoxins, most notably Zearalenone. There is a lot of visible mold and musty smells in both hays and silages but also, mycotoxin REQ has been high in hays and silage with no obvious visible mold, emphasising the need for a robust mycotoxin testing program.


Asia and the risk from imported grains

As reported in Alltech’s annual Global Feed Survey, the Asia Pacific (APAC) region continues to show the largest year on year increased in compound feed production. To produce the almost half a billion metric tons of feed, large amounts of raw materials are imported from Europe, North America and Latin America. Long distance shipping and variable storage conditions only serve to heighten the mycotoxin risk in imported grains, meaning Asian feed producers should seek to understand mycotoxin contamination patterns in the country of origin of imported grains, while also ensuring sufficient quality control programs are in place when ingredients are being brought into the feed production process.

The mycotoxin risk doesn’t end here

The mycotoxin challenge doesn’t stop at harvest, and as we continually see grains and forages that come out of storage post-harvest may have a very different mycotoxin profile than when they went into storage. This demonstrates the need for an ongoing mycotoxin control program. Equally, as global grain stocks remain tight, many producers are forced to turn to the use of feed by-products, ingredients that typically pose a greater mycotoxin challenge.

If you would like more detail on the harvest analysis results, please contact your local Alltech representative or visit

*REQ: A measurement of the cumulative impact of mycotoxins in reference to aflatoxin B1


Click the links below to register for the harvest analysis webinar in your region: