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Farmers to pay for toxin tests

I stopped in at the local co-op yesterday afternoon to check on billing for fertilizer applied last week. I got quite a shock from the manager. He informed me that as of yesterday it was going to be their policy to sample loads of corn for aflatoxin – at the farmer’s expense. There had been concern about contamination earlier in the fall but no major problems surfaced during harvest. 

When the last field of corn was in the bin, most farmers forgot about the whole issue. Grain terminals did not. It seems that somewhere along the supply chain a couple of loads with the toxin higher than the allowable limit got dumped into one of the big elevators. Now everyone is gun-shy. 


Aflatoxin is common in my part of the world in years when the corn undergoes weather stress during the growing season. When harvest is over, most people forget the issue and it doesn't surface again until another dry summer. By spring, it seems, buyers want cash corn and the toxin is not at a high enough level to cause a problem. I suspect that will happen this year as well. For the time being, we are going to be in a no-man’s-land with corn if we want to sell it to generate immediate income. In my case, I have small amounts of corn in three different bins. I can easily wait out the solution because the corn went into storage plenty dry. There is a good chance that if tested, my corn would be free of the toxin.


The soybean market continues to press higher after confirming the second dead cat bounce of the season. As of Thursday’s close, cash soybeans were $1.07 a bushel over the second harvest low on November 16. All requirements of the second bounce have been met. If selling soybeans on the dead cat bounce was one of your strategies, the time has come. I cannot say with any certainty that prices will not continue to rally. I can say for sure that today’s offer is $1-per-bushel more than it was a month ago. 

This morning, two four-wheel-drive tractors went by my farm, each with what is popularly known as vertical tillage. I have to wonder what the owners of those implements are trying to accomplish with the tillage they are doing. I have been 100% no-till for 20 years. Whenever I have compared my cultural practice to deep-tillage, I have found a yield advantage to the no-till, especially in dry years. At the very least, I do not have the expense of owning and running a four-wheel-drive tractor. If we continue to be short of rain, it will be really interesting to compare yields next year at this time. With the drought we had this year, yields were surprisingly good. I attribute that to the moisture conservation aspects of no-till.

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