The “localvore” movement and public interest in sourcing local foods has extended into beverages, and the demand for local brewing and distilling ingredients sourced in the Northeast remains high. One market that has generated interest from both farmers and end-users is malted barley. The Northeast is home to over 180 microbreweries and 37 craft distillers. Until recently, local malt was not readily available to brewers or distillers. The expanding malting industry provides farmers with new markets for grain crops. Regional maltsters continue to find it challenging to source enough local grain to match demand for their product. The local barley that is available sometimes does not meet the rigid quality standards for malting. One major obstacle for growers is Fusarium head blight (FHB) infection of grain. This fungal disease is currently the most significant disease facing organic and conventional grain growers in the Northeast, resulting in loss of yield, shriveled grain, and most importantly, mycotoxin contamination. A vomitoxin called deoxynivalenol (DON) is the primary mycotoxin associated with FHB. The fungus can overwinter in soils and spores can be transported by air currents. Fusarium can infect plants at spike emergence through grain fill. Consuming DON at over 1 ppm poses a health risk to both humans and livestock, and products with DON values greater than 1 ppm are considered unsuitable for human consumption by the FDA.


Vermont, University of Vermont, fhb, fusarium head blight, malting barley

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