The combination of drought, derecho, and hot weather has Iowa crops maturing earlier than usual, and with a host of grain quality concerns.

“Storm damaged corn is on the ground and it is quickly becoming moldy which creates food safety hazards,” said Charles Hurburgh, professor and grain quality specialist in agricultural and biosystems engineering at Iowa State University. “The whole idea here is to get the producer and the crop insurance and the grain market together on determining value for the severely damaged grain, and how can we either take that as a total loss or direct it to another use, but not put it into the grain market.”

The droughted corn, on the other hand, is drying rapidly in the field. The key is monitoring for mold growth and toxin production during the drydown and harvesting quickly if scouting shows signs.

Hurburgh said there is a need for communication across the board, so that solutions can be reached without causing further problems down the line.

Hurburgh and the Iowa Grain Quality Initiative at Iowa State University Extension and Outreach offer the several key points of advice for growers in both the drought and storm damage area. 

Maintain contact with your crop insurance adjuster. We recommend having a conversation about how grain quality will be handled in your individual policy. It’s important to ask about the specific quality factors (test weight, damage) and feed safety factors (mycotoxins) that will be considered.

Call your elevator to ask how or if different qualities of grain will be accepted. Ask them what factors they will look at and if there will be acceptance limits.

Continue to scout grain in the field for quality issues (primarily mold development). Continue reporting what you find to your crop adjuster, even if there has been one visit for quantity loss determination. This could change acceptance, use and valuation. Again, ask about special markets for severely damaged corn and about the process for zero valuing if quality continues to deteriorate before harvest.

Test the grain being fed to livestock. The key factors to consider are test weight, protein and mycotoxins. A veterinarian can access testing from Iowa State on these factors and help interpret data.

Additional considerations are listed the on the Iowa Grain Quality Initiative web site, www.extension.iastate.edu/grain. For more information, Hurburgh can be reached at 515-294-8629 or tatry@iastate.edu.