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For the past two years, a team from Bodles and RADA has been conducting a monthly on farm based assessment in seven high risk extension areas in South Manchester and St. Elizabeth. Using a risk assessment tool developed by the team of researchers at Bodles with support from extension officers at RADA, field conditions are assessed and the risk calculated to determine the risk level as follows:

  • Risk level 1- Low
  • Risk Level 2- medium
  • Risk level 3- Moderate and
  • Risk level 4- High

The most recent assessment conducted on February 13, 2020, risk levels was between level 1-2 (Low to medium risk) for most of the extension areas, which is favorable at this time. Based on recent data from the Meteorological Office of Jamaica, cool night temperatures of 17.4 to 19.6oC have been recorded in the extension areas being monitored, which do not normally favour growth and development of the Beet Army worm population.

The highest larval/worm population was recorded in the Southfield and Pedro Plains extension, near the action threshold. As we approach the high risk season (April to June), where night temperatures will increase, the larval population may increase and therefore farmers are being asked to pay keen attention to this advisory and remain vigilant in their fields.

The Research and Development Division of the Ministry of Industry, Commerce, Agriculture and Fisheries (MICAF) and RADA are advising that Farmers in these areas are being advised to follow recommendations as follows:

  • Monitor crops at least twice a week or every three days (moth traps for migrating moths, BAW eggs at the tip of the leaves and larvae/worm and damage levels)
  • Utilize the pheromone traps as a monitoring tool to detect the early arrival of the migrating beet army worm adults (or bats)
  • Newly hatched worms will emerge within three days from egg sacs. This is critical as these are the most vulnerable and susceptible stages to target cultural and chemical strategies
  • Apply pesticides as necessary targeting young worms. Use Bio-rational insecticides by targeting young worms (1st -2nd instars)
  • Close attention needs to be given to older onion fields; 9-10 weeks maturity. Pest shows a high preference for onion during this period.
  • When spraying, choose least toxic, bio-rational insecticides, to minimize negative impact on natural enemies (or farmers friends)
  • Older worms are hardier, insecticidal treatment are less effective and worms are less exposed to chemicals and natural enemies, since they reside inside the leaves
  • Ensure that onion and scallion crops are harvested and sold at maturity and not left in the field due to low prices or other marketing issues. Unmanaged or abandoned plants encourage the build-up of beet army worm populations.
  • Contact your RADA extension officer or Bodles Researchers if you are noticing an increase in beet army worm population in your field.

For further information please contact your nearest RADA office 1-888-ASK-RADA or the Research and Development Division, Plant Protection Unit (Bodles Research Station) in St. Catherine.

  • RADA (toll free) 1-888-ASK RADA (275-7232)
  • RADA Manchester – 876-962-0479/0477
  • RADA St Elizabeth – 876-966-2285/2232/2872
  • Bodles Research Station, Plant Protection Unit (R&DD, MICAF) – 876-745-2960/745-2956
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