Several corn ear rots possible this year
Gibberella ear rot, caused by the Gibberella zeae fungus, infects plants during early silking and pollination. It favors cooler temperatures than the other ear rots, and produces a pink or reddish mold that can form a fungal mat similar to Diplodia.
Gibeberella zeae produces the mycotoxin deoxynivalenol, also called vomitoxin. Wise said this mycotoxin can be extremely harmful to swine and is carefully regulated by the FDA.
"If ear rots are observed in a field, affected areas should be harvested early and grain segregated to avoid contaminating non-infected grain with mycotoxins," she said.
Mycotoxins are byproducts of the fungal infections, not living organisms. They cannot be killed or removed from the grain. But producers can remove small particles such as foreign material containing mycotoxins by screening or cleaning the grain or coring grain bins to help reduce the mycotoxin levels.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture's Grain Inspection Handbook, available at http://www.gipsa.usda.gov/Publications/pub_fgis.html, has additional information on mycotoxins and handling of infected grain.