Thanks for signing up!

Look for the Digest in your email twice a month.

Follow Us

Sign up for our Digest to receive the latest agronomic insights and crop management advice for your primary growing region delivered twice a month to your inbox.

Harvest is Near: Know How to Identify 5 Mycotoxins in Corn

September 12, 2019
This agronomic image shows kernel rot in corn

 Ear infected with kernel rot, a disease capable of producing mycotoxins.

Ongoing weather-related challenges could bring risk of corn ear and kernel infections this harvest season. With several factors to consider as you prepare to harvest corn, make sure scouting for mycotoxins makes your list.

Not only can mycotoxins be extremely harmful to humans and animals, they can also have a severe economic impact. Contaminated grain restricts marketability and may be docked in price, and dried distillers’ grains may be rejected.

Identifying Mycotoxins

Different mycotoxins affect livestock differently, so it is important to correctly identify the responsible ear rot and its associated mycotoxin. Knowing this information early can help create plans for how to harvest, dry and market your grain. Here are the 5 most common mycotoxins in corn:


  • Produced by: Aspergillus flavus, Aspergillus parasiticus.
  • Identified by: Yellow-green spore masses.
  • Concern to: Both human and animal health, making it the most damaging mycotoxin.
  • A known carcinogen with a strict threshold of 20 parts per billion (ppb) in grain and feed (0.5 ppb in milk) established by the Food and Drug Administration.
  • Most common aflatoxins are B1, B2, G1 and G2.


  • Produced by: Fusarium verticillioides (previous name moniliforme).
  • Identified by: White to pink/salmon-colored mold.
  • Concern to: Equine, swine.
  • Highly correlated to insect damage on corn ears/kernels.
  • The most common fungal disease of corn ears.

Deoxynivalenol (DON)

  • Produced by: Gibberella zeae or Fusarium graminearum.
  • Identified by: Pink/red mold.
  • Concern to: Swine.
  • Not highly correlated to insect feeding.

Zearalenone (ZEN)

  • Produced by: Fusarium graminearum.
  • Identified by: Pink mold.
  • Concern to: Swine.


  • Produced by: Fusarium sporotrichioides.
  • Identified by: Primarily white mold, although in some cases it can appear pink/red.
  • Concern to: Poultry.


There are multiple tools to dramatically reduce mycotoxins, especially aflatoxins. In addition to minimizing crop stress through sound in-season agronomic practices during the growing season, plan to harvest, dry and store grain at appropriate moisture levels to reduce risk of mycotoxin development.

Going into next season, consider planting NK® corn hybrids with the Agrisure Viptera® trait for the most comprehensive insect control, reducing insect feeding damage to ears and protecting grain quality.

For additional recommendations, speak to your local NK retailer.

Sign up for the Know More, Grow More Digest to receive twice-monthly agronomic e-mail updates pertinent to your area.

All photos are either the property of Syngenta or are used with permission.