Prairie Wheat Crop Relatively Fusarium Free

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Canada’s wheat crop has only low levels of the toxin that has caused Brazil to impose strict testing on United States wheat shipments, the Canadian Wheat Board said Sept. 18.

Brazil sanitary officials said earlier they will test incoming U.S. wheat shipments for traces of vomitoxin, a toxin that can sicken humans and livestock.

Vomitoxin is a byproduct of fusarium head blight, a fungal disease that attacks small grains and thrives in wet, humid weather. Manitoba, where fusarium is usually concentrated, had a wet spring, but cool temperatures kept fusarium from spreading, said Lawrence Klusa, the quality control manager for the wheat board.

“It looks really good this year in terms of (low vomitoxin levels in) western Canadian wheat,” he said.

The average vomitoxin level in recent Canadian crop samples is 0.1 to 0.2 parts per million, a fraction of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration standard of one part per million in food products. The general guideline for vomitoxin in wheat fed to cattle is five parts per million, Klusa said.

Vomitoxin problems in the U.S. were generally limited to the Soft Red Winter wheat crop.

Brazil may face pressure to find new sources of wheat because of small crop potential in Argentina, said Ken Ball, a futures and options broker with Union Securities.

Lower vomitoxin levels in Canadian wheat than U.S. wheat should be a marketing advantage, Ball said, but added it’s too early to predict how significant.

“There certainly should be some opportunities.”

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