By Connor Lynch
CARDINAL — Vomitoxin, for the most part, passed by Eastern Ontario. But some farmers got whacked with the horror that haunts Ontario’s corn harvest.
Cash crop farmer Dean Foster, in Prince Edward County, is particularly up a creek.
He was taking off corn at between 1 and 6 parts per million levels of vomitoxin, which is a toxic byproduct of a mould that can grow on corn. For most farmers, this would be manageable since most elevators will take corn up to 8 ppm. Foster, in fact, has an elevator in his area that will take 8 ppm corn at no discount.
The problem? Foster sold much of his crop to three brokers, who in turn sold it to grain processors Ingredion, at Cardinal, and Greenfield, at Johnstown, both hugging the St. Lawrence River. Foster said that neither company is taking corn over 2 ppm, which leaves him without somewhere to ship 3,200 tonnes of corn. Ethanol producers tend to shy away from higher vom corn since vomitoxin concentrates as much as three times in dried distillers’ grains (DDGs), a byproduct of ethanol production.
One broker has insisted that Foster fill the order, he said.
He could sell some rejected corn to his local elevator, but he contracted the crop at $210 per tonne, and the day-price for corn, as of Jan. 3 was about $180 a tonne. He’d be out $92,000 from his contracted price.
What’s doubly frustrating is that nothing in his contract stipulates anything about vomitoxin levels. “But I bet it will next year,” Foster said.
Picton farmer Lloyd Crowe was in a similar pickle. He was sending two to three loads of corn a day to Ingredion, and anxiously waiting to see if any of his trucks have to make the six-hour round trip back with a full load. Said Crowe: “Sometimes every second or third load is turned down.” Crowe, however, has found some reprieve. Ganaraska Grains at Port Hope is accepting up to 8 ppm corn, so any loads that get rejected by Port of Johnstown go there.
Elevator operator Peter Archer of Maizeing Acres, at Campbellford, said that he’s heard of pockets of high vomitoxin corn scattered in Central Ontario. But they’re few and far enough between that he’s confident the market can handle it. “There’ll be a market for it. We’ve got it under control.”