NDSU Extension - Williams County


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What to do when you have DON - August 30, 2016

County Agent Update

Danielle Steinhoff


What to do when you have DON


DON, commonly referred to as vomitoxin, is back in the fields this year. It has been two years since DON was wide spread through the region. It affects wheat and barley grain infected by Fusarium head blight (FHB) or scab. Scab may infect grain heads when wet weather occurs during the flowering and grain filling stages or plant development. Just because you have scab in your fields, that doesn’t mean you will have DON.  The concentrations of DON in grain are expressed as parts per million (ppm) The U.S Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has established DON advisory levels to provide safe food and feed. Human food products are restricted to a 1ppm level established by the FDA. To know if you have DON in your wheat or barley, the best option is to have samples of your seed tested. There are a few possible ways to use wheat that contains DON.

Cleaning; the kernels may be deformed enough that they can be removed by screening. The kernels typically have a lighter test weight, so the very light kernels can be removed by airflow. Cleaning seed is an additional cost, but removing the damaged and infected kernels may make it marketable. Respiratory protection is needed while handling infested grain as the mold spores will be in the air causing allergic reactions and breathing problems. Personal protective gear are designed to keep the mold spores and grain dust out of your airway, using a N95 rated mask or a respirator with a HEPA filter is recommended.

Storage; grain that is dried below 22%, fungal growth and DON productions stops. Damage kernels have the potential for grain deterioration during storage, the infected grain should be kept at 12% moisture or below. Storing grain is a possibility for a later selling date.

Marketing; elevator discounts are generally most severe during or right after harvest, they may decrease after the harvest season. With DON being present in most of Northwest North Dakota and Northeast Montana, I would suggest calling your elevator and see how they will be handling the infected seed.

Feed; infected grain can be fed to livestock, but should follow the regulations set by the FDA.

Beef cattle: growing cattle and finishing cattle can handle levels up to 15ppm, with no more than 50% of the diets being infected seed. Do not feed to calves under 6 months of age or pregnant or lactating cows.

Dairy cattle: the FDA limits the level to 2ppm DON in the diets of lactating dairy cows

Swine: don’t feed wheat containing DON to gestating or lactating sows, also don’t feed to pigs under 50 pounds. Growing and finishing pigs are able to eat DON infected seed at a rate of 1ppm in their dietary levels

Poultry: Do not exceed 5ppm in dietary levels

Horse: there is not research data existing, since horses are monogastric animals they tend to be more sensitive. Owners should be extremely cautious about feeding DON to their horses.

This information was gathered from the NDSU Extension Service publication PP-1302, if you would like a copy please contact the extension office at 701-577-4595.


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