Farmers still dealing with the aftermath of wet, cool weather on their 2009 corn crop have a place to turn for help. Purdue University's new Managing Moldy Corn Web site offers information and advice both to corn growers with crop mold problems and livestock producers who might be feeding corn to their animals.
The Web site was developed through a partnership of Purdue Cooperative Extension Service specialists in Purdue's departments of Agricultural and Biological Engineering, Agricultural Economics, Agronomy, Animal Sciences and Botany and Plant Pathology.
"Purdue Extension pulled together the best experts from the College of Agriculture to provide Midwest farmers with up-to-date information focused on storing, marketing and feeding 2009 crop corn that might have a problem with mold," says James Mintert, Purdue's assistant director of Extension for agriculture and natural resources. "The site also provides information on how farmers can manage the risk of another mold outbreak in 2010."
Mold can form on corn ears when excessive rainfall and lower temperatures set in late in the crop season. Because weather conditions were poor through much of this past growing season, many farmers were forced to delay harvest, which contributed to the development of mold in their fields. Mold can infect corn with mycotoxins – poisonous fungi that can cause illness if consumed by animals.
Corn coming out of storage this spring also can develop mold if not managed properly.
The new site addresses a broad range of mold-related issues, says Bruce Erickson, Purdue Extension's director of cropping systems management. There also is a Purdue Extension experts list, he says.
"We've developed lists of frequently asked questions (FAQ) on the site divided into four different topic areas: causes and identification, feeding and animal nutrition, storage and handling and marketing and insurance," Erickson says. "Users can peruse these FAQ lists for information and they can also read a variety of Extension publications that address many of these issues. If you need more specific information, we've also provided a list of Purdue experts on each topic with their phone numbers and e-mail addresses to make it easy to contact them."
Grain and livestock producers also can contact local offices of Purdue Extension for more information on corn mold issues.
"Purdue's county-based agriculture and natural resource educators are a great source of information on moldy corn issues, because they are familiar with the problems that have been occurring locally and can make recommendations that fit individual situations well," Mintert says.