Corn fungus hurting harvested crops

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MONTICELLO -- New concern for farmers: grain companies say they're seeing a fungus pop up in corn crops.

It's called aflatoxin. Experts say dry conditions from the drought, and then rains during the harvest are causing more cases this year.

Topflight Grain Co. merchandiser Derrick Bruhn says they're seeing more cases in Macon County.

He says the magic number is 20 parts per billion. That's the level the FDA rules is safe enough to use in food.

But if enough farmers' crops test higher than that, Bruhn says it could hurt some big companies in town.

"There's going to be less corn, potentially, for the local industries in Decatur to process due to this," Bruhn said. "Any corn that doesn't meet that 20 parts per billion is going to have to be rejected by them."

But not all crops will go to waste if they do fail aflatoxin tests. The FDA approves it up to a certain level for livestock use.

Experts say some corn with aflatoxin can be still be used in ethanol, but it can't be used for its by-products.

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