University of Saskatchewan researchers develop new crop-quality test

University of Saskatchewan researchers develop new crop-quality test
WATCH: University of Saskatchewan researchers have developed a new test that it said is more accurate when identifying toxins in cereal crops.

Researchers at the University of Saskatchewan have developed a new test to identify and determine the number of toxins in cereal grain crops.

The test looks for deoxynivalenol (DON) levels in crops like barley, wheat and oats.

READ MORE: Average to above-average crop quality as harvest wraps up in Saskatchewan

A research officer said current methods of testing DON levels aren’t as accurate as the one the university has developed.

“Our accuracy came close to 99 per cent precision and we can detect a very low concentration of this mycotoxin in grains,” Lipu Wang said.

The team is also looking at which strains have the lowest levels of mycotoxins and will look to breed those strains in order to prevent the spread of DON.

READ MORE: 90% of crops across Alberta harvested in ‘complicated’ and ‘halted’ season

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In extreme cases, DON can reduce the market value of a crop and can even be harmful to people and animals.

However, recent tests done by the Canadian Food Inspection Agency haven’t found unsafe levels of DON in recent years.

The new test extracts mycotoxins using chemicals and then injects those toxins into a mass spectrometer to identify them.

READ MORE: Maintaining optimism amidst poor harvest conditions in Saskatchewan

The Saskatchewan Wheat Development Commission said contaminations can cause market value losses ranging from 40 to 65 per cent.

“If you’re looking to know how your seed is or your grade, whether it’s still going to have a chance of making milling quality or might end up in a feed market — just being able to have those answers quicker,” said chairperson Brett Halstead.

The most common test takes about 20 minutes, while this test can be completed in less than two.