Ergot in cereals

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There is currently no EU legislation for minimum residue levels for ergot alkaloids but there are pending discussions in the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) that may result in future legislative limits. The current standards are 0.001% ergot (by weight) for feed grain and zero tolerance for all other grain. Buyers either reject contaminated grain or offer a reduced price.

To reduce the risk from ergot in cereal crops:

> Manage grass weeds, especially black-grass

> Harvest field headlands and tramlines separately from the bulk of the crop

> Plant a non-cereal crop or plough to ensure ergots are buried to at least 5cm depth

> Avoid varieties with a long flowering period

> Avoid sowing contaminated seed – clean farm-saved seed thoroughly to remove ergot

Related Publications

IS33 Ergot In Cereals 2018 Web Edition