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Mycotoxin Prediction for Wheat in Europe: 2021 Harvest | Week 20 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.

European winter wheat

Anthesis is the most critical time for the development of Fusarium head blight and weather plays a critical role. Winter wheat started flowering as early as April in the most southern parts of Europe extending east from Western Mediterranean regions to Greece. In early May plants entered anthesis throughout much of Spain, Italy and Southern France and in Southeast Europe Greece and Bulgaria. As May progresses large parts of France, Northern Italy as well most of Southeast Europe up to Hungary will follow.

Precipitation in April for Southern European growing regions

Crops that flowered in early April, planted along the Mediterranean coastlines saw little to no rain in this period. Compared to last year, early April was substantially drier in Spain and Sicily, but more rain hit the Croatian coastline and Sardinia this year, 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 are now followed by only a few days of rain in this period.

Rain forecast for May

In the first half of May Southeast Europe from Greece to Bulgaria received little to no rain. Also the south of Italy and large regions in Spain were mostly dry this year. In contrast coastal atlantic and inland regions of Spain and France as well as Northern Italy received 6 to 12 days of rain. Compared to last year this early May was overall a little dryer, with the exception of Bulgaria that had received sufficient rain in this period of 2020. 

Similar rainfall patterns will persist late May with less rain in the south but sufficient precipitation in Central Europe. Bulgaria in particular but also most of Southeast Europe are forecast to receive up to 12 days of rain, with the exception of Greece which will stay dry for most of this period. Rain will also intensify in Central Europe affecting essentially all growing regions. 

Taken together flowering crops north of the Mediterranean are at higher risk for infection with F. graminearum and accumulation of mycotoxins based on the forecast precipitation during flowering. 

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.

With much of the weather yet to unfold our current mycotoxin forecast is still subject to change, but using an average across major European regions giving relatively more weight to more productive growing areas we can estimate the overall risk for DON contamination in the upcoming wheat harvest. 

The highest average risk remains for Southern Europe with an estimated 47% of harvests containing DON levels above 150 parts per billion. Risks for other major parts of Europe range from 25% (Eastern Europe) to 27% (Northern Europe) and 37% (Central Europe). However, large differences can be observed in risks calculated on the regional level, with for instance severe risks (+75%) for inland France in contrast to regions along the Atlantic coast. Similar regional differences can be observed for all other major growing areas. 

Risk for ZEN is in general lower and mostly coincides with prevalence of DON. While the overall risk for regions is only moderate, again regional hotspots occur, where additional precautions may be advisable.

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