Wisconsin farmers concerned that mold could hurt profits

MADISON  — Wet weather this year has delayed Wisconsin's grain harvest and caused widespread mold problems in farm fields, according to agriculture experts.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture expects Wisconsin farmers to harvest a record amount of soybeans this year, but farmers say they're worried the wet weather will prevent them from seeing improved profits, Wisconsin Public Radio reported .

"On paper, there's a lot of grain out there, in these fields that are harvesting that haven't been flooded out," said Paul Mitchell, director of the Renk Agribusiness Institute at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. "The big question is how good is (the grain) and is it all usable."

Farmers should send crop samples to a lab to be tested for mycotoxin, a toxic substance that can produce mold and can cause health problems in cattle and other livestock, said Shawn Conley, a soybean and small grains specialist at the university.

"It's really hard to ask farmers to slow down, given the value of that crop in the field and they want to get it out before it's all laying on the ground," he said. "But I think in the long run, it may behoove them to maybe slow down a little bit and just get an assessment."

Farmers with significant mold issues should talk to an insurance agent before harvesting the crops, Mitchell said.

"What people forget sometimes is that quality losses are an insurable loss as well," he said. "(The grain) is still sellable in general at some reduced price. Sometimes there's mitigation, you have to clean it up, there's different activities you have to do."