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Mycotoxin Prediction for Wheat in Europe: 2021 Harvest | Week 18 Update

Results of statistical analysis reveal that many parts of Europe can expect potentially harmful levels of mycotoxin contamination in the upcoming 2021 wheat harvest.

Follow our predictions on mycotoxin contamination levels in the upcoming European wheat and corn harvest.

Mycotoxin Prediction for Corn and Wheat in Europe

Above the risk thresholds

The percentage risks in the table are the likelihood that a crop in that region will be above the risk thresholds measured in parts per billion (ppb) for deoxynivalenol (DON) and zearalenone (ZEN). The regions are quite large and it is important to note that risk levels could vary widely within each region.

Sub RegionDONZEN
Central Europe368
Eastern Europe2410
Northern Europe2418
Southern Europe5811
Thresholds150 ppb50 ppb


European winter wheat

Wheat is grown practically everywhere in Europe. Plants start flowering as early as April in Sicily and parts of Andalucia and anthesis progresses further within the next weeks to the southern and coastal regions of the Iberian Peninsula, Italy, up to the south of France and coastal regions along the eastern Mediterranean Sea. In May, we expect winter wheat to start flowering in central Spain and more northern regions of France and the Atlantic coast as well as in Italy and Greece. Anthesis is the most critical time for the development of Fusarium head blight, and weather plays a critical role.

Precipitation in April for Southern European growing regions

Crops that flowered in early April were planted in the southernmost regions of Spain and Sicily. These regions saw little to no rain in this period, similar to coastal regions of Greece. In the same period, only a few days of rain, with more than two hours of precipitation, hit southern and coastal France and the Italian coast. Compared to last year, early April was substantially drier in Spain and Sicily, but more rain hit the Croatian coastline and Sardinia, leading to a higher relative mycotoxin risk for flowering crops in these regions.

Late April became much wetter all over Europe, with up to 10 days of rain in coastal growing regions and at least four or five rain days in most other regions. Late April has had similar weather to the same time last year, with the exception of southern France where heavy rains in 2020 have been replaced by intermediate precipitation of about five days rain in inland regions.

Rain forecast for May

More rain is forecast for early May, notably in those regions where crops are also predicted to enter anthesis at this time. Five to nine days of rain are expected for the Iberian Peninsula, in particular the Atlantic coastline and Portugal as well as for central and northern Italy. Up to 12 days of rain are forecast for this two-week period for central France and adjacent southern and western coastal regions. In contrast, no rain is expected for Greece in this period.  

In late May, rainfall will persist in Italy and extend through most of the Balkans and down to Greece. Rain will subside almost completely in France and large regions of Spain, with substantial precipitation predicted only for the region around Madrid.

Mycotoxin risk for European winter wheat

The BIOMIN Mycotoxin Prediction Tool uses 15 factors that incorporate global hourly weather data and the effect these factors have on plant, fungi and mycotoxin production, together with the historic data of the BIOMIN Mycotoxin Survey.

It is too early for accurate predictions for many European regions, in particular in the north and east, as crops here will not progress past the heading stage in the upcoming weeks. However, based on long-range weather forecasts—with more weight on weather for higher yielding growing regions—risk levels are estimated for entire regions. Currently, we assume moderate to medium risk for Eastern and Norther European countries, as well as for Central European countries (24% to 36% of harvests containing levels above the risk threshold of 150 parts per billion).

For some regions in France and many Southern European countries more precise estimations can be made. Overall, we project a high risk of deoxynivalenol contamination for Southern countries with an estimated 58% of harvests containing levels above the set threshold. Here, specific regions such as the Mediterranean Coastal regions of Italy and France, show relatively higher to extreme risks depending on the next weeks’ weather and projected crop phenology. Only moderate risk is predicted for the Western France and Central Spain.

Risk for zearalenone is in general lower and mostly coincides with the prevalence of deoxynivalenol. On a regional scale, the highest relative risk is predicted for Northern Europe. Compared to our first assessment the predicted risk remains largely unchanged:

In the selected southern regions, the predicted risks are moderate in most regions, with the exception of some coastal regions in particular southern France and Italy that are exposed to higher risk of zearalenone.

As mycotoxin predictions are based on statistical methods, BIOMIN neither gives any warranties with regard to the content, nor accepts any liabilities in connection with the predictions or its consequences, if any.

How does prediction work?

Mycotoxin prediction models provide forecasts on expected mycotoxin levels in the upcoming harvest. In order to provide accurate predictions, weather conditions during various growing stages need to be taken into account, and there needs to be an understanding of how these weather conditions impact mycotoxin development in the crop.

more about the BIOMIN Mycotoxin Prediction Tool