The aim of this study was to evaluate the performance of two predictive models for deoxynivalenol contamination of wheat at harvest in the Netherlands, including the use of weather forecast data and external model validation. Data were collected in a different year and from different wheat fields than data used for model development. The two models were run for six preset scenarios, varying in the period for which weather forecast data were used, from zero-day (historical data only) to a 13-day period around wheat flowering. Model predictions using forecast weather data were compared to those using historical data. Furthermore, model predictions using historical weather data were evaluated against observed deoxynivalenol contamination of the wheat fields.
Results showed that the use of weather forecast data rather than observed data only slightly influenced model predictions. The percent of correct model predictions, given a threshold of 1,250 μg/kg (legal limit in European Union), was about 95% for the two models. However, only three samples had a deoxynivalenol concentration above this threshold, and the models were not able to predict these samples correctly.
It was concluded that two- week weather forecast data can reliable be used in descriptive models for deoxynivalenol contamination of wheat, resulting in more timely model predictions. The two models are able to predict lower deoxynivalenol contamination correctly, but model performance in situations with high deoxynivalenol contamination needs to be further validated. This will need years with conducive environmental conditions for deoxynivalenol contamination of wheat.