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​​​​​​​​Identifying Inoculant Contamination

  • Pelleting is a normal occurrence in inoculants.
  • Contamination, although rare, may happen and cause the inoculant to be ineffective.
  • Contaminated bladders should not be used.


Pelleting is a normal occurrence and can be more pronounced in concentrated products such as Optimize® XC and Tag Team® LCO XC. Pelleting is the result of bacterial cells, insoluble fermentation ingredients, and/or other contributing factors settling out of the solution into masses that can be seen in the bladder laying on the film (Figure 1). Pelleting should not be a reason for concern and the pellets should re-suspend back into the solution with very little effort. Following package directions and gently shaking the bladder should be enough to achieve suspension.

Figure 1. Normal Pelleting.

Even with adhering to the highest operational procedures, contamination may occasionally occur. Contamination may happen in different ways, one example, are microscopic holes that may be created at pinch points of the bladder during filling. These holes allow for contaminants to enter the nutrient rich medium.

Odor and visual cues are two ways to identify a contaminated bladder. A distinct odor is often the first thing noticed. Contaminated inoculant will have a very off smell, it can be rank, smell like ammonia or be very sharp.

Some masses in a contaminated bladder, unlike pelleting, will not easily go back into suspension. The masses may look like sheets or bits of tissue floating in the bladder. If a fungal contamination is to blame, the problem may be more noticeable with large masses of semi-solids being present in the bladder (Figure 2).

Figure 2. Contamination visible as sheeting. Bottom right image is an example of fungal contamination.


If contamination is suspected you should contact the distributor through which you purchased the product. Your distributor will be the most efficient source for replacement product to minimize treatment interruptions. The distributor will work directly with Monsanto BioAg™.


Pelleting is a normal occurrence in inoculants but floating masses or masses stuck to the bladders film are not. If after following label directions and re-suspension methods you are still unsure if contamination may have occurred, refrain from using the product. Contaminates may render the product ineffective and they can blind screens in treaters. Smelling the inoculant may aid in identifying if contamination has occurred. Contaminated products should not be used. Reach out to your distributor if you believe you have contaminated product.

Individual results may vary, and performance may vary from location to location and from year to year. This result may not be an indicator of results you may obtain as local growing, soil and weather conditions may vary. Growers should evaluate data from multiple locations and years whenever possible.

ALWAYS READ AND FOLLOW PESTICIDE LABEL DIRECTIONS. Cell-Tech® and TagTeam® are registered trademarks of Monsanto Technology LLC. All other trademarks are the property of their respective owners. ©2015 Monsanto Company. 150727134522 082515JSC​



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