Market Matters Blog
Katie Micik DTN Markets Editor

Tuesday 11/06/12

Quality Issues Reign

In our AgNews segment today, Todd Neely reports that the Illinois Department of Agriculture has asked some farmers to plow under fields of corn contaminated with excessively high levels of aflatoxin, more than 1000 parts per billion. As he explains in the story, aflatoxin levels above 300 parts per billion are unsafe to feed to livestock. Elevators start docking for aflatoxin levels above 20 ppb, the threshold for export quality corn.

Reports of aflatoxin have been spotty and sometimes even sporadic within the same field. No one really wants to talk about aflatoxin this year even though it's one of the biggest quality concerns.

I spoke with an owner of a quality testing lab that works closely with export logistics earlier this week. He said their tests from interior locations have been "hit and miss," but it really hasn't been an issue on loads they're testing before exporting. He credits a rigorous control system at interior loading points for keeping most of the corn tainted

"Anyone with export intentions will take a hard look before sending a barge to the Gulf and potentially getting stuck in the Gulf with tonnage that cannot be exported," he said. Due to the short supplies and relatively high prices, there's not much demand for U.S. corn on the export market right now, which will help keep some of the quality concerns at bay.

"But an even bigger problem for the export side is the amount of damaged corn that just cannot make export specifications," he said.

Drought-related kernel damage is one of the top issues facing exporters this year and good quality corn could become tough to find later this year as the Midwest looks for something to balance out the aflatoxin and exporters look for something to improve quality.

Posted at 11:29AM CST 11/06/12 by Katie Micik
Comments (1)
Illinois annually provides about half of the U.S. Exports of corn. That's going to be hard to pull off this year ------- quality concerns, low water levels on rivers, and oh need I mention no corn in the bins until next fall?
Posted by Roger Cooper at 9:29AM CST 11/07/12
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