FUSARIUM MYCOTOXIN incidence is generally at low levels in the UK, according to an ongoing investigation by Harper Adams University.

Results from the first three years (2001-03) of a five year study have found only a weak relationship between fusarium damage and mycotoxin incidence, said study coordinator Simon Edwards at the British Crop Protection Council conference (Nov 2).

In 2003 out of 328 samples tested, 10 were found to exceed the EU‘s proposed mycotoxin limit of 1,000ppb. Deoxynivalenol (DON) was the most commonly found mycotoxin, the results showed.

“Although these are still preliminary results, levels of fusarium mycotoxin found so far in UK wheat are lower than those found on continental Europe,” he added.

Millers and maltsters currently use visual assessments to determine pink grain contamination, he said.

But the uncertain link between pink grains and mycotoxins could raise the need for a more accurate test to establish whether the pink colouring reflects mycotoxin presence, Dr Edwards suggested.

The investigation is also looking at management factors contributing to fusarium incidence, such as crop residues, cultivation methods and different fungicide treatments.

Results so far have found that leaving maize residues on the surface significantly increases fusarium risk, as maize is an alternative host to the disease.

It is hoped that information gathered can be used to give good agricultural practice advice to growers, he said.