Corn committee launches corn DON testing

The voluntary program will inoculate corn hybrids at two locations in the province

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The Ontario corn committee is requesting seed companies enter their current and new hybrids in newly created inoculated trials for susceptibility to DON.

The committee says the voluntary trials will take place in both Ridgetown and Ottawa and are funded for the next two years.

Why it matters: There were extensive acres of Ontario’s corn crop adversely affected by the presence of deoxynivalenol (DON), which decreased the value of that corn, causing economic stress to farmers.

The hybrids entered in the trials will be tested based on two types of inoculation, including silk channel and wounding to simulate insect or bird damage.

Inoculated trials are being used, according to a release by the corn committee, in order to make sure each hybrid competes equally.

There has been no independent evaluation of DON susceptibility conducted in Ontario using inoculated trials. The corn hybrids grown in Ontario have similar genetics to those grown in the rest of the continent, but they are grown in the lee of the Great Lakes which makes for different DON-risk susceptibility.

The trial results will be available for the committee to reviews in November 2019, and with approval by the committee, the results, including hybrid names, will be made public.

“While it is a seed company’s decision as to whether to participate in these tests and which hybrids to enter, the OCC is strongly encouraging them to enter all new hybrids in the DON trials along with any existing hybrids that they expect to continue to market for 2020 and beyond,” said the committee in its release.  “It is important that the entries in these trials represent as large a proportion of the corn acreage in the DON-prone areas of Ontario as possible.”

DON data from 2018 released shortly

The corn committee is releasing the data it has relating to DON on the 2018 corn crop this week.

The corn committee says it voted unanimously to issue a report which illustrates the relative susceptibility to DON accumulation of the 106 hybrids for which samples were collected.

The table found at gocorn.net will show a wide variety of susceptibility to DON, although most hybrids were in the middle of the evaluation range. Hybrids will be shown as red, yellow and green. Red indicated a higher level of susceptibility.

“It is important to note that none of the hybrids can be said to be ‘resistant’”, the OCC said in its statement. “Under conditions favouring Giberella, any of them can accumulate significant amounts of DON. However, the OCC believes that the information contained in this report will provide a tool to assist growers in reducing the risk of selecting hybrids that are among the most susceptible.”

While the new testing project is funded for two years by the Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs, Grain Farmers of Ontario and entry fees from participants, the corn committee says it expects DON testing to be part of the regular Hybrid Performance Trials administered by the Ontario corn committee. The committee is made up of representatives from Agriculture and Agri- Food Canada, OMAFRA, the University of Guelph, the Ontario Soil and Crop Improvement Association, the Grain Farmers of Ontario and the Canadian Seed Trade Association.

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John Greig

John Greig has spent his career in agriculture journalism and communications. He lives on a farm near Ailsa Craig, Ontario. Contact John at [email protected] or follow him on Twitter @jgreig

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