Q: Why is it important for me to get my seed tested for fusarium?
Fusarium graminearum is a highly aggressive fungus that causes fusarium head blight (FHB) and produces a mycotoxin that damages grain. Millions of dollars are lost annually in Canada and other parts of the world because of F. graminearum.
Important facts to consider:
- F. graminearum can cause significant yield and quality loss in wheat, triticale, barley, oats, rye and corn.
- Infected grain has limited or no use for food or feed for livestock.
- There is no certainty of re-claiming infected land; F. graminearum is almost impossible to eliminate once you have it.
Q: Does it matter where I get my seed tested?
A: Yes. All labs are NOT created equal, and even going to a Government Accredited Laboratory is no guarantee that you’re receiving an accurate fusarium test.
That’s because fusarium testing in Alberta is not regulated and it is not a part of the Accreditation Program of Seed Laboratories. It’s up to you, the consumer, to ensure that you’re getting what you paid for.
Interpreting the results of fusarium tests requires professional knowledge, and 20/20 Seed Labs, Inc. is the only seed testing lab in Alberta to employ plant pathologists to ensure our results are accurate.
Understanding how F. graminearum is detected and, more importantly, how it may not be detected on your seed, is important to the future of your farm. At 20/20 Seed Labs Inc., we believe that the value of your farm and livelihood is worth the best technology to detect F. graminearum.
Q: Is testing for fusarium expensive?
A: NO! Our standard DNA-based test for F.graminearum costs pennies an acre, while introducing fusarium to your fields costs a lifetime of crop infection. Don’t risk your farm to save a few dollars.
In order to minimize the chances of introducing F. graminearum onto your farm, insist on buying or using seed that has been tested with a DNA test. Always ask how the seed has been tested before you buy or plant any cereal or corn crop.
Q: Is testing for the presence of fusarium enough?
A: No. The original test method for F. graminearum is the plate culture method. Although this test can still be used to determine the percentage of infection in affected grain, it cannot detect low levels of the pathogen or surface infections, both of which are serious threats to your farm.
Q: What is the fusarium DNA test?
A: Otherwise known as a fusarium molecular diagnostic, the DNA test is a highly sensitive, highly accurate test for the presence of F. graminearum at extremely low levels.
The DNA based detection method is many times more sensitive than the conventional plate method, so the chances of a misdiagnosis or false-negative are reduced significantly. The DNA test offers:
- Greater sensitivity through recognition of DNA in fragments of mycelium or spores.
- Specific recognition of F. graminearum, distinguishing it from other fusarium species and F. pseudograminearum.
- Faster diagnosis – in as little as 24 hours.
- Larger samples analyzed – 400 to 600 seeds, or two to three times the amount of the plate method.
Let us help you ensure accurate results. Insist on using the DNA method for all of the seed on your farm.
Q: Is Alberta still “fusarium free”?
A: Yes. Alberta maintains a zero tolerance policy for fusarium on all imported grain.
In the years since Alberta Agriculture, Food and Rural Development introduced a compulsory testing program, the spread of F. graminearum had been limited.
But it is spreading, and the speed at which it moves depends on whether infected seed is moved into and planted around Alberta.
The ultimate success of this program is dependent on continued awareness, good farm management practices and ensuring that proper detection techniques are used regularly and diligently.
Q: If testing shows the presence of DON in grain, can I still use it for feed?
A positive ELISA test showing the presence of vomitoxin doesn’t necessarily mean your grain is worthless. It can be used to feed livestock if healthy seed is added in the correct proportions.
To make feeding infected grain a safe alternative, you must know the amount of toxin present (ppm) and then dilute the contaminated grain with healthy seed or forages to bring the amount of toxins down to a safe level for feeding.
Agriculture & Agri-Food Canada has published the following guidelines for safe feeding of DON-infected grain:
- Swine: not even 1 ppm
- Weanling Pigs: less than 1 ppm
- Dairy Cattle: 1 ppm
- Beef Cattle: 5 ppm
- Sheep: 5 ppm
- Horses: 1 ppm
- Poultry: 5 ppm
If your grain has higher than acceptable levels of vomitoxin for feeding on its own, use the following formula to calculate the amount of sound feed you must add to bring the toxin down to a safe level.
- Divide the acceptable level by the actual level and multiply this number by 100 to get the percent of infected grain it is safe to feed.
- Add enough sound feed to bring the percentage up to 100.
Example: Your grain has 10 ppm vomitoxin and you want to feed beef cattle. How much sound grain do you need? Solution:
- 5 ÷10 =.50 x100 = 50% infected grain
- 50% sound feed = 100% acceptable feed