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November 17, 2009

"Vomitoxin" disaster declared in 10 Md. counties

A fungal grain infestation caused by last spring's wet weather in Maryland was bad enough to earn a federal agricultural disaster declaration for 10 Maryland counties. U.S. Agriculture Secretary Thomas J. Vilsack approved the state's request for aid in a Nov. 13 letter to Gov. Martin O'Malley.

Wheat and barley crops planted here became infected with the Vomitoxin (deoxynivalenol toxin, or DON) during May and June. The toxin is produced by a fungus called "Fusarium head blight," and the contamination makes the grain unmarketable, and unusable as feed.

Maryland barleyThe North Dakota State University describes its impact this way: "Grain with DON would have to be ingested in very high amounts to pose a health risk to humans, but it can affect flavors in foods and processing performance. Human food products are restricted to a 1-ppm level established by the FDA. This level is considered safe for human consumption. The food industry often sets standards that are more restrictive. DON causes feed refusal and poor weight gain in some livestock if fed above the advisory levels."

Maryland Agriculture Secretary Buddy Hance said, "Farmers in the disaster designation areas experienced market value losses ranging from 30 to 55 percent."

The federal disaster declaration makes farmers in the primary designation areas, and all adjoining counties, eligible for "consideration" for assistance from the USDA Farm Service Agency.

The primary counties in the disaster declaration are Baltimore, Carroll, Cecil, Harford, Howard, Kent, Montgomery, Queen Anne's, Talbot and Washington.

BWI Marshall Airport recorded more than 9 inches of surplus rain during April, May and June. Since then, more than 3.5 additional inches of surplus rain have been added.

(SUN PHOTO/Glenn Fawcett 2008)

Posted by Frank Roylance at 3:18 PM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Phenomena

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About Frank Roylance
This site is the Maryland Weather archive. The current Maryland Weather blog can be found here.
Frank Roylance is a reporter for The Baltimore Sun. He came to Baltimore from New Bedford, Mass. in 1980 to join the old Evening Sun. He moved to the morning Sun when the papers merged in 1992, and has spent most of his time since covering science, including astronomy and the weather. One of The Baltimore Sun's first online Web logs, the Weather Blog debuted in October 2004. In June 2006 Frank also began writing comments on local weather and stargazing for The Baltimore Sun's print Weather Page. Frank also answers readers’ weather queries for the newspaper and the blog. Frank Roylance retired in October 2011. Maryland Weather is now being updated by members of The Baltimore Sun staff

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