Grower Warning: Moldy Corn and Crop Insurance

After a near ideal growing season, wet weather is causing nasty issues like the threat of moldy corn.

Given the quantity of rain we’ve received lately, be on the lookout for moldy corn. Mold can harm livestock and create problems in the food chain.

Buyers are on the lookout for mold. So if you suspect you have it, and you have crop insurance, contact your agent before you harvest. Your insurer will follow up and tell you how to proceed.

There’s tons to know about corn ear rot and you have Drs. Damon Smith and Paul Mitchell on your side to help fill you in. You can read their full post about this topic here.

In a nutshell, there are molds and there are really bad molds—ones that can produce toxins called mycotoxins that can threaten livestock who eat it. Grain buyers are actively on the hunt for mycotoxins to be certain anything they accept is below FDA action levels.

You can reduce mycotoxin risk. How? Check for moldy corn before you harvest as well as monitor the grain for mold. Just because mold is present does not mean mycotoxins are present—and, sadly, vice versa. If your alarm bells are ringing. collect smaples and have them tested at a reputable lab. Your corn agronomist or local UW Extension agent will be happy to work with you to collect samples properly and identify a trustworthy lab.

Here’s the main point. If your sample comes back high in mycotoxins—and we cannot stress this enough—do not blend that grain with uncontaminated corn.

So, what are you to do if you observe mold during harvest? Here are five concrete suggestions.

  1. Harvest and store the corn separately, as you might inadvertently contaminate loads of good corn
  2. Get out there and harvest ASAP. Letting corn stand into fall promotes Fusarium ear rot
  3. Avoid kernel damage as cracks in the kernels give fungi a purchase to grow
  4. Dry your corn properly as higher moisture creates a preferable environment for fungi growth. (For short term storage, aim for 15% moisture at a cool temperature of 55 degree Fahrenheit. For longer term storage, or storage in toastier months, aim for 13% moisture or less.
  5. Finally, keep your storage facilities clean. Mycotoxins are quite stable—freezing, drying and heating do not bother mycotoxins once they’re in your grain.

Want to know more about storing mycotoxin-affected grain? Read up on it here.

Finally, quality losses due to moldy corn are insurable losses if you’re insured—but you must follow the rules to secure your claim.

Protect yourself: the best practice is communicate with your crop insurance agent before harvesting any corn you suspect has mold issues. Some insurers prefer you leave unharvested rows in the field to allow crop loss adjustors to determine idemnities on the ground.

If you discover it along the way, let your agent know. Use that mobile phone—especially before you store or sell that grain. If you have a contaminated crop. your agent will tell you how to proceed. With mold and crop insurance, fast, accurate reporting wins the reimbursement.