JIS News

Story Highlights

  • Onion and scallion farmers in St. Elizabeth and Manchester are being encouraged to increase monitoring of their fields for signs of infestation by the beet army worm.
  • The appeal, from the Rural Agricultural Development Authority (RADA), is in light of a surge in the population of the pest in the seven areas of the two parishes, which are usually affected.
  • “We ask you to monitor your field twice per week,” said Senior Plant Health/Food Safety Specialist in the Division of Training, Technology and Technical Information at RADA, Dwayne Henry.

Onion and scallion farmers in St. Elizabeth and Manchester are being encouraged to increase monitoring of their fields for signs of infestation by the beet army worm.

The appeal, from the Rural Agricultural Development Authority (RADA), is in light of a surge in the population of the pest in the seven areas of the two parishes, which are usually affected.

“We ask you to monitor your field twice per week,” said Senior Plant Health/Food Safety Specialist in the Division of Training, Technology and Technical Information at RADA, Dwayne Henry.

“The farmers are familiar with the term scouting so I ask them to scout their fields so they can observe the early signs of beet army worm being spread. When the egg sacs start appearing, it tells you that within one to three days the pests will be hatching and will start eating your leaves and after that, you won’t be able to manage them as effectively,” he pointed out.

Mr. Henry was addressing a recent JIS Think Tank, where he provided tips on how farmers can protect their fields.

More than 4,000 farmers in the two parishes are typically affected by the beet army worm.

Mr. Henry further advised the farmers to rotate their crops after reaping the scallion and onion.

“The beet army worm thrives on (scallion and onion) and we advise the farmers to plant crops that are not as susceptible but will yield similar economic results such as watermelon, tomato and thyme,” he noted.

Biorational pesticides that are non-toxic to people and animals, and pheromone traps have also been highlighted as useful in preventing the breeding of the destructive pest in fields.

“We urge farmers to select the biorational or biological pesticides because they do work but only if you catch the early signs of the pest like the larvae or the eggs. Farmers are encouraged to use the pheromone traps to monitor the beet army worm adult population. By catching these adult worms in these traps, you drown and get rid of those. A trap can catch up to 500 moths and that is every two days,” Mr. Henry further explained.

He added that the management of beet army worm has to be inclusive with participation from the entire farming community. “If one farmer executes the correct farming practices and the others don’t, then you’ll limit the efficacy of what one farmer does,” he pointed out.

Farmers in the two parishes are advised to contact the RADA extension officers in their area for their fields to be assessed and be provided with tailor-made solutions.