The federal and provincial governments are supporting the creation of an early-warning and risk assessment system for deoxynivalenol (DON).
Grain Farmers of Ontario is leading the project which will work similarly to a DON-forecasting system in place for years for wheat in the province. That system monitors weather conditions to predict DON risk, which helps farmers know when to spray a fungicide if needed, or make other crop management decisions.
Dr. Dave Hooker at the University of Guelph’s Ridgetown campus is leading research behind the development of the online tool.
“The repercussions of this year’s high-DON levels in corn are still being felt,” said Barry Senft, CEO, Grain Farmers of Ontario. “Farmers would welcome a tool that allows us some forecasting in terms of DON levels and helps us to prepare for any issues and maintain our businesses and the province’s grain corn value chain.”
The 2018 corn harvest was challenging due to the large amount of corn infected by ear funguses that led to high levels of DON in corn across the province, but especially in southern Ontario. That meant challenges for farmers finding a market for the infected corn, complaints about the variability of the testing system for DON and concerns about the lack of hybrid-susceptibilty information relating to the vomitoxin. A program has been started, led by the Ontario Corn Committee, which oversees hybrid testing, to include evaluations of corn hybrid susceptibility. That program is also being developed by staff at Ridgetown College.
“We understand the significant impact the DON issue has presented for Ontario’s grain farmers and the grain value-chain and we are committed to sustainable solutions that will help farmers and the industry as a whole continue to grow and prosper,” said Marie-Claude Bibeau, federal Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food.
“Ontario’s government understands the stress and the frustration that DON can create for our hard-working corn farmers and others in the sector,” said Ernie Hardeman, Ontario’s Minister of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs.