Continued rain throughout the Upper Midwest following this summer’s drought has heightened fears that harvested corn could contain mycotoxins which may prove harmful to pigs and people alike.

“What we are seeing and hearing is that molds and mycotoxins are going to be two to three times higher than average due to all the moisture in the field.

“In some areas, the problems are even worse where it has been exceedingly wet or where much of the corn is down due to wind and storms. These fields will take a long time to dry, which will further contribute to mold growth,” reports Mark Boggess, director of Science and Technology for the National Pork Board.

Worst areas of concern are in Minnesota and northern Iowa, but there are also areas of concern for southwest Iowa, western Nebraska and northern Missouri, which “are drowning in moisture right now,” and have been unable to finish their corn harvest, he notes.

Also, ethanol production concentrates mycotoxins in distiller’s dried grains with solubles (DDGS) by a factor of three. If feeding DDGS, make sure the corn used and DDGS product both have been adequately screened for mycotoxins, urges Boggess.

Some agronomists are suggesting that people combining and working in fields with significant mold should wear masks to protect against floating aerosol mycotoxins, because many are actually carcinogenic, he warns.

For pigs, problems with moldy corn “can produce horror stories” due to the mycotoxins themselves as well as palability problems that can lead to poor-doing hogs, emaciation and sometimes even death, as well as reproductive problems.

As always, pork producers should work with their mills to ensure corn and feed are aggressively tested for mycotoxins. This year looks to be one of the worst in recent memory, says Boggess.