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Beet army worm increase likely due to rain - agriculture ministry

Published:Friday | April 14, 2017 | 12:00 AM

The Ministry of Industry, Commerce, Agriculture and Fisheries and the Rural Agricultural Development Authority (RADA) is warning scallion and onion farmers of the possible increase in beet armyworm due to recent rains.

An advisory from the ministry warned of the infestation and urged farmers, particularly those in south St Elizabeth; New Forest, Manchester, and their environs, to take the necessary precautions.

The ministry stated in a release that increased plant growth due to recent rains has provided additional food supply for the beet armyworm, and pests in general.

"This is happening at a time when the price for both red-root and white-root scallion is low," the release noted.

Scallion and onion farmers are being advised to immediately do the following:

- Intensify the monitoring of their crops at least twice a week, or every three days.

- Monitor for the early detection of the egg sacs when deposited on the tip of leaves and for emergence of newly hatched worms within three days. This is critical as these are the most vulnerable and susceptible stages, where cultural and chemical strategies are to be applied.

- Begin or continue to utilise the pheromone traps as a monitoring tool to detect the early arrival of the migrating beet armyworm adults (aka bats). Contact the RADA parish office for more information.

- Hand-pick caterpillars where there are small acreages of scallion.

- Look for beet armyworm egg sacks and young worms. Young worms are more susceptible to approved insecticides than older worms. Only apply products approved for use on scallion and onion crops. Do not apply Tick wash to crops! Use environmentally friendly products that encourage the presence of natural enemies (or farmers friends).

- Manage all weeds within and surrounding the fields which may harbour the pest.

- Provide adequate nutrition to the crop.

- Refrain from leaving mature scallion in the field - harvest all mature scallions - leaving this in the field will provide more food for the beet armyworm.

- Contact the RADA marketing officers if you are experiencing challenges with marketing scallion.

- Contact your RADA extension officer if you are noticing an increase in the beet armyworm population in your field.