Archived Story

Farmers urged to test corn for aflatoxin

Published 5:25pm Thursday, August 22, 2013

Wet and humid conditions this growing season have local and state agriculture officials encouraging farmers to have their corn test for aflatoxin to prevent contamination of feeds and food.

Aflatoxin is a byproduct of the mold aspergillus flavus, and can be harmful to both humans and livestock.

“It can be an issue for us. It often depends on the year we’ve had, the growing season. When I say that, I mean wet weather. … Rainy weather promotes some of the disease problems that we have on corn. That can degrade corn and lead to some issues with feeding the grain to animals. So, we have to be careful with that,” said Rod Gurganus, director of the N.C. Cooperative Extension Service in Beaufort County.

“Now if it were a real dry year, we would see a lot less, or at least the likelihood would be a lot less because we wouldn’t have had a favorable environment for disease growth,” he said.

Agriculture Commissioner Steve Troxler also encourages farmers to have their corn tested.

“Because of our climate in North Carolina, there’s always the potential for aflatoxin to appear,” Troxler said in a news release. “Farmers should take advantage of our testing service to protect feed and food against this mold.”

Some farmers may need to have corn samples tested for crop insurance or quality assurance purposes. These samples must be submitted to a grain-marketing location certified by the U.S. Department of Agriculture. The tests cost $22.20 per sample.

For insurance or quality assurance purposes, farmers must submit a five-pound sample of shelled corn by mail, UPS or FedEx to a USDA-certified grain-marketing location. The following locations can conduct USDA-certified testing, and they will accept samples between 6:30 a.m. and 3 p.m. weekdays:

• Cargill soybean plant (attention Ben Honeycutt), 1400 S. Blount St., Raleigh, NC 27603 (919-733-4491).

Grain Grading Office (attention Judy Grimes), 407-G, South Griffin St., Elizabeth City, NC 27909 (252-337-9782).

Farmers who grow or buy bulk corn to feed to their animals can have it tested for free by the N.C. Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services’ Constable Laboratory, 4000 Reedy Creek Road in Raleigh. This laboratory is not on the Risk Management Agency’s approved testing facility list; therefore, results from this location will not be accepted for insurance claims.

Area farmers may drop off five-pound samples of shelled corn at the lab or at Tidewater Research Station, 207 Research Station Road, Plymouth, 252-793-4118; Lower Coastal Plain Tobacco/Cunningham Research Station, 200 Cunningham Road, Kinston, 252-527-3579;

Samples also may be mailed directly to the lab at the following address:

N.C. Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, Food and Drug Protection Division, 1070 Mail Service Center, Raleigh, NC 27699-1070

For additional information about the aflatoxin testing program, contact Jennifer Godwin or Michelle Gilliam at 919-733-7366.

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