Understanding Aflatoxin Management in Arizona
In the late 1970s, a demand for an aflatoxin management program arose as thousands of pounds of milk were being drained into ditches due to unmarketable levels of aflatoxin found in the milk. A solid course of action had to be found.
Aflatoxin enters the milk through feed consumption, specifically found in corn and cotton. A naturally occurring toxin produced by some strains of the fungus Aspergillus flavus, proper Aflatoxin management of toxin-producing strains remains crucial to quality production. Aflatoxin-producing fungi have optimal growth under warm temperatures and access to moisture, an environment easily found in many Arizona fields. The Arizona Cotton Research and Protection Council (ACRPC) worked in conjunction with USDA-ARS to develop AF36 Prevail; a biological control agent that displaces aflatoxin-producing fungi.
AF36 Prevail is a sterilized nutrient seed, such as milo, that is coated with a non-toxin-producing strain of the fungus that readily displaces toxin-producing strains, lowering the toxin levels on the crop. With more than 22 years of use and over two million acres treated, AF36 Prevail is proven as an effective solution in year-over-year applications in commercial crops.
After years of application and analysis, AF36 Prevail was found to be effective at displacing toxin-producing strains in crops outside of corn and cotton, creating opportunities for use of the technology in additional marketable crops. AF36 Prevail is registered to treat corn, cotton, pistachios, almonds (California) and figs across Arizona as well as other states.
Best Practices for Mitigation
Best practices for aflatoxin mitigation include annual area-wide treatments with a proactive mindset. Application for corn is best in V7 growth until silks emerge; cotton at layby; pistachio, almond and fig from late May through early July under the canopy after cultivation is complete. Optimal results occur when moisture is available within three days of application. Annual application shows additive effects and continued reduction of aflatoxin-producing strains. With the help of wind and insects, reduced aflatoxin levels have been found in the surrounding, untreated acres providing an expanded areawide effect to displace aflatoxin-producing fungi.
ACRPC’s goal for the Aflatoxin Mitigation Program is to ensure the longevity of a toxigenic (non-toxic producing) strain technology for the commodities in need at an economic value. ACRPC offers soil sampling before and after application to measure the fungal populations. In high aflatoxin-producing years, displacement can result in dramatically reduced aflatoxin levels, though in some instances, still above optimal levels. ACRPC provides free delivery to Arizona customers and encourages a relationship with the product manufacturer (ACRPC). As a non-profit organization, we hope to maintain contact with our customers to assist in providing research, products, and information to the agriculture community with the mutual benefit of contributing to quality agriculture production.
Editor’s Note: To maintain communication with Arizona agriculture, ACRPC is excited to announce that it has expanded its team to include Morgan Klenke, marketing and sales associate for the AF36 Aflatoxin Program. Klenke will serve as the communication line to the commodities for the aflatoxin management program. Spending most of her life in Arizona, she pursued livestock production throughout her time in local 4-H and FFA. Holding a bachelor’s degree in Global Agribusiness from Arizona State University, you can reach her at 602.291.2983 or at firstname.lastname@example.org. Keep informed and up to date on the latest issues related to aflatoxin management and AF36 Prevail via Arizona Cotton Research and Protection Council’s social media channels.
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