Forecasting deoxynivalenol DONcast

In most developing countries an early warning system is needed for mycotoxin contamination alerts. In 2001-2002 a Fusarium outbreak in the wheat crop in Uruguay resulted in serious economic losses. An electronic deoxynivalenol rapid-alert forecasting system based on a Canadian model that links weather patterns, rainfall, field trials on deoxynivalenol content and crop information (Hooker et al., 2002) was tested in Uruguay as part of an FAO project. DONcast forecasts have two uses: to assist with fungicide application decisions and as a preharvest warning for the grain trade and millers. To be successful, sampling and deoxynivalenol analysis at harvest and the timely provision of near real-time weather data by region is required. DONcast had > 90% accuracy in determining which fields not to spray with fungicide because the risk of deoxynivalenol is low. This project, if extended to regional forecasting, could lead to regional solutions to Fusarium epidemics and could be applicable to other areas facing similar situations.

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