- Reports have indicated that some fields are experiencing an unusually high beet armyworm population.
- The pest infestation is concentrated in small pockets in areas such as Pedro Plains, Bull Savannah, and Junction.
- Farmers are being advised to intensify the monitoring of their crops to at least every three days.
The Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries is urging farmers in south St. Elizabeth to take precautionary measures against the beet armyworm, which affects escallion and onion.
Reports have indicated that some fields are experiencing an unusually high beet armyworm population, due to excess production, which has seen mature crops remaining in the fields for longer periods. When this happens, pest management practices are relaxed and this leads to an increase in infestation.
Zonal Plant Health and Food Safety Officer for the western region, Odean Bradshaw, told JIS News, that the pest infestation is concentrated in small pockets in areas such as Pedro Plains, Bull Savannah, and Junction. “It is not an alarming situation; but we want farmers to be aware of what is happening in their surroundings,” she stated.
She said that farmers are being advised to intensify the monitoring of their crops to at least every three days and “begin or continue to utilize the pheromone traps as a tool to detect the early arrival of the migrating beet armyworm adults.”
The beet armyworm can have a debilitating effect on onion and escallion cultivation and the livelihood of farmers.
Farmers are warned to refrain from leaving mature crops in the field as this increases the availability of food for the worms. They are also encouraged to apply only recommended chemical treatment that is environmentally friendly to their fields and contact their Rural Agricultural Development Authority (RADA) extension offices if there is a noticeable increase in the beet armyworm population.
“The effectiveness of treatments may be enhanced by clipping off the leaf tips prior to the application (of chemical treatment) especially if the beet armyworms have entered the leaves. Management of weeds within the surroundings fields is also critical to containing the spread of the pest,” Ms. Bradshaw explained.
She informed that they should also make use of the three farmer field schools geared towards the management of the beet armyworm. “They actually service in excess of 60 farmers on a weekly basis,” Ms. Bradshaw informed.
For further information farmers may contact the nearest RADA office or the Research and Development Division, Plant Protection Unit (Bodles Research Station) in St. Catherine, 983-2267/2281; RADA (toll free) 1-888-ASK RADA (275-7232) and RADA St. Elizabeth – 966-2285/2232 .