Cereals Canada would like to remind growers that presence of the mycotoxin deoxynivalenol (DON) in wheat, barley and oats may upset their opportunities to market their crop.Also commonly known as vomitoxin, DON is harmful to humans and animals at high levels.

Wheat florets with fusarium head blight
Wheat florets with fusarium head blight and showing orangish sporulation. | photo: Kelly Turkington
“Domestic processors and export customers are increasingly testing shipments for mycotoxins,” says Brenna Mahoney, director of communications and stakeholder relations with Cereals Canada. “Shipments that exceed acceptable levels of DON could be rejected, which is a tremendous cost to the industry and may impact Canada’s reputation as a producer of high-quality cereal grains.”

DON can be produced when fusarium head blight (FHB) infects cereal crops. FHB is a fungal disease, recognized by premature bleaching and salmon-coloured fungal growth on the heads of crops it has infected.

FHB increases production costs, reduces yields and decreases grain quality. The production of DON by some fusarium species further limits the grain’s end uses and marketing potential, as most importing countries have strict limits on DON levels.

“Using best management practices to identify fusarium early and putting together a plan to manage the disease is very important,” says Mahoney.

To keep Canada’s markets open for all and preserve your crop marketing opportunities, Cereals Canada recommends growers take the following steps in fusarium management:

  • Grow fusarium-resistant varieties.
  • Apply a fungicide when there is an elevated risk of FHB.
  • Plan crop rotations to manage fusarium.
  • Plant clean seed and consider a seed treatment in high-risk areas to improve the crop stand.
  • Use a combination of best management practices to control fusarium.

The agricultural departments in each province have relevant material on their websites, including risk maps, and producers are encouraged to make use of the provincial specific materials available.

“When we all work together to protect Canada’s reputation as a trusted supplier, it helps our entire industry thrive,” says Mahoney. “By keeping fusarium damaged grain and mycotoxins to a minimum, growers are protecting their investment and protecting market access for all.”