Mycotoxin Survey 2018: First Insights into Regional Harvest Results


Analysis results of the harvest in Austria give first insights on mycotoxin contamination (Figure 1-3). A very hot summer with too little rainfall in the north and partly heavy rainfall in the south of Austria had deteriorated the prognosis of the amount of harvest and its probable contamination. From June to September, 29 and 36 samples were analysed for Zearalenone (ZEN) and Deoxynivalenol (DON), respectively. ZEN was found in 66% of wheat samples and DON in 58% (Figure 1). The average concentration of DON was 2616 ppb and thus higher than the risk threshold. The average concentration of ZEN was 93 ppb. However, also the maximum levels for Austrian wheat samples are a reason to be concerned, as they are rather high with 615 ppb (ZEN) and 11,700 ppb (DON).

Figure 1. Austria – Prevalence of mycotoxins in wheat samples June-September


The analysis of Austrian barley samples revealed a prevalence of 24% of ZEN (86 samples were analysed) and 56% of DON (88 samples). The average concentration for DON and ZEN was 908 ppb and 61 ppb, respectively.

Figure 2. Austria – Prevalence of mycotoxins in barley samples June-September

Figure 3. Austria – Prevalence of mycotoxins in maize samples June-September

Less maize samples are yet available, but in total 34 samples were analysed and show a contamination with not only DON and ZEN, but also with Fumonisins (FUM) (average concentrations are 448 ppb, 32 ppb and 547 ppb, respectively). Co-contamination was observed for barley and maize samples.

These first results of the Austrian harvest 2018 are supported by the monitoring results of the chambers of agriculture and AGES (Austrian Agency for Health and Food Safety) in Austria. These institutions monitor mycotoxin contamination of the harvest of maize and some results are already presented. Although most samples showed a low contamination, in Lower Austria a moderate contamination with Fumonisins was detected. A moderate contamination with ZEN and a high contamination with DON was found in Southern Styria (up to 250 and 1750 ppb, respectively). Due to this high DON concentration, AGES and the chambers of agriculture recommend a rapid harvest of corn. South Styria seems to have especially suffered from poor weather conditions. In this region the amount of rain between January and June doubled. 



Germany is suffering from the poor weather conditions, precisely the little rain and long drought. It is suspected that the amount of the harvest will drop by around 20% compared to the harvest last year. Unfortunately, already last year`s harvest was rather poor (Deutsche Raiffeisenverband).

The BIOMIN survey can give first insights on the additional pressure on the harvest and farmers due to mycotoxin contamination.

94 wheat samples of the harvest in Germany have already been analysed. DON is prevalent in 53% of the 94 samples tested and ZEN in 46% (57 samples tested). T-2 toxin was detected in 75% of samples, but just 4 samples were analysed for this toxin (Fig 4). Average concentration of DON is 650 ppb.

Figure 4. Germany – Prevalence of mycotoxins in wheat samples June-September

Barley samples of the German harvest showed less contamination with ZEN (2%; 51 samples tested) but an occurrence of DON in 45% of the samples (84 samples tested) (Figure 5). Average concentration of DON was lower in barley (332 ppb). T-2 toxin showed again a high prevalence but only 2 samples were tested.

Figure 5. Germany – Prevalence of mycotoxins in barley samples June-September

Up to now, only 6 maize samples have been tested during harvest time in Germany for the BIOMIN survey. 


An early analysis of samples from the harvest in Italy shows a high DON occurrence and average concentration (1859 ppb) in wheat. ZEN, DON, T2-toxin and FUM were detected in wheat samples. 

Figure 6. Italy – Prevalence of mycotoxins in wheat samples June-September

12 barley samples, also with a high DON average (3405 ppb), were investigated. In these samples ZEN, DON, T-2, FUM and OTA were found. 

Figure 7. Italy – Prevalence of mycotoxins in barley samples June-September

DON but also ZEN show high occurrence and concentration levels in samples from the ongoing harvest in Austria, Germany and Italy. Thus, not only the unpredictable weather conditions put a strain on farmers as less harvest is expected, also increased mycotoxin contamination render profitable harvest more difficult.