Keeping Safe Means Protecting Yourself From Molds at Harvest

Keeping Safe Means Protecting Yourself From Molds at Harvest

More mold spores are out there this year than usual -- wear protection.

Even in decent-yielding corn, there may be more smut and molds this year than normal. Keep that in mind as you work with corn, especially if you're handling grain in a confined space at your grain center. Pick out a mask that can provide some protection against mold spores, and wear it.

AVOID DUST: Stay away from corn dust as much as possible, even when you're unloading your own grain at home.

Otherwise, you may find yourself coming down with a respiratory ailment, including coughing, wheezing and just generally not feeling good. Many ailments during harvest that farmers write off to being tired, catching a fall cold or some other cause are actually linked to exposure to dust containing irritants. With more mold spores released during harvest than usual this year, it's likely that breathing dust containing molds could trigger allergies or cause respiratory symptoms.

One cattle feeder reports that he and his son went to get a load of fines form the local elevator recently. The elevator had been receiving new corn, and the fines were screenings from that new corn. The feeder noticed it was particularly dusty, but didn't think much about it. The next day both he and his son were coughing and wheezing. It likely wasn't a coincidence, and it likely wasn't a cold virus or caused by a bacteria. It was likely triggered by mold spores that piggybacked along with the fines they hauled home and scooped into a bin to feed to livestock.

Things like mold spores and dust tend to accumulate in the fines anyway. When you core bins this fall to remove the area where fines accumulate most and which block off airflow through the bin, remember that the core may contain more molds than usual. It's always a good idea to minimize your exposure to the dust associated with coring out a bin, and removing and hauling off the grain from the center.

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