The Office of the Texas State Chemist and the Texas Feed and Fertilizer Control Service have analyzed 53 samples of new crop corn for fumonisin since Sept. 19. Forty-nine percent of the corn analyzed is above recommended levels for safe feeding of horses and rabbits. Recent corn samples that tested positive were from crops around Waco, Austin, Kerrville and Victoria, said Larry Whitlock, supervisor for feed and fertilizer product compliance with the Texas Feed and Fertilizer Control Service.
Because the problem is not confined to a specific region in the state, all corn should be tested for fumonisin prior to being fed to sensitive animals such as horses and rabbits, he said.
Corn screenings (small and broken kernels separated from whole corn during cleaning) generally contain much higher levels of fumonisin than does whole corn. Officials say to be safe, corn screenings should definitely not be fed to horses.
Fumonisin should not be confused with aflatoxin, which is another toxin produced by several molds of the genera of Aspergillus and Penicillium that can occur in corn and also in whole cottonseed, peanuts, grain screenings and the meals made from the oil extracted seed. Aflatoxin infestation is favored by drought conditions and occurs primarily in corn kernels damaged by insects and drought.
Fumonisin is produced in corn by the fungus/mold Fusarium moniliforme. Its development is favored by high humidity and overcast skies. These conditions occurred earlier this summer in some parts of the state and triggered the fungal growth, Whitlock said.
Fumonisin can cause leukoencephalomalacia (leuko) in horses, a fatal necrosis of the brain; after an animal has the symptoms, recovery is unlikely. The toxin also
Contact: Blair Fannin
Texas A&M University - Agricultural Communications