Abstract

High concentrations of the mycotoxins HT-2 and T-2 (HT2 + T2), primarily produced by Fusarium langsethiae, have occasionally been detected in Norwegian oat grains. In this study, we identified weather variables influencing accumulation of HT2 + T2 in Norwegian oat grains. Oat grain samples from farmers’ fields were collected together with weather data (2004–2013). Spearman rank correlation coefficients were calculated between the HT2 + T2 contamination in oats at harvest and a range of weather summarisations within estimated phenological windows of growth stages in oats (tillering, flowering etc.). Furthermore, we developed a mathematical model to predict the risk of HT2 + T2 in oat grains. Our data show that adequate predictions of the risk of HT2 + T2 in oat grains at harvest can be achieved, based upon weather data observed during the growing season. Humid and cool conditions, in addition to moderate temperatures during booting, were associated with increased HT2 + T2 accumulation in harvested oat grains, whereas warm and humid weather during stem elongation and inflorescence emergence, or cool weather and absence of rain during booting reduced the risk of HT2 + T2 accumulation. Warm and humid weather immediately after flowering increased the risk, while moderate to warm temperatures and absence of rain during dough development, reduced the risk of HT2 + T2 accumulation in oat grains. Our data indicated that HT2 + T2 contamination in oats is influenced by weather conditions both pre- and post-flowering. These findings are in contrast with a previous study examining the risk of deoxynivalenol contamination in oat reporting that toxin accumulation was mostly influenced by weather conditions from flowering onwards.

Abstract

High concentrations of the mycotoxin deoxynivalenol (DON), produced by Fusarium graminearum have occurred frequently in Norwegian oats recently. Early prediction of DON levels is important for farmers, authorities and the Cereal Industry. In this study, the main weather factors influencing mycotoxin accumulation were identified and two models to predict the risk of DON in oat grains in Norway were developed: (1) as a warning system for farmers to decide if and when to treat with fungicide, and (2) for authorities and industry to use at harvest to identify potential food safety problems. Oat grain samples from farmers’ fields were collected together with weather data (2004–2013). A mathematical model was developed and used to estimate phenology windows of growth stages in oats (tillering, flowering etc.). Weather summarisations were then calculated within these windows, and the Spearman rank correlation factor calculated between DON-contamination in oats at harvest and the weather summarisations for each phenological window. DON contamination was most clearly associated with the weather conditions around flowering and close to harvest. Warm, rainy and humid weather during and around flowering increased the risk of DON accumulation in oats, as did dry periods during germination/seedling growth and tillering. Prior to harvest, warm and humid weather conditions followed by cool and dry conditions were associated with a decreased risk of DON accumulation. A prediction model, including only pre-flowering weather conditions, adequately forecasted risk of DON contamination in oat, and can aid in decisions about fungicide treatments.