Fall armyworm is here to stay and is an extra plague grain and other producers will have to deal with in future, says Kobus Steenekamp, managing director of Monsanto.
Steenekamp spoke to South African farmers at a technology day in Bethal, Mpumalanga, hosted by the company. He says the worm made its way from the northern parts of southern Africa, where it led to huge damage in Zambia and Zimbabwe. It then hit South Africa, causing losses in maize and sorghum. Luckily for South African farmers, the worm came into the country in a relatively late development stage.
He warns that fall armyworm is here to stay and says in future farmers should take the cost of fighting the worm into account, when doing their annual planning.
Farmers incurred extra cost by dealing with the pest. It is an important aspect, considering the current low price of maize. Some farmers spent an extra R1 000 (US$77) per ha on chemicals to fight fall armyworm.
The pest is very sensitive to cold and won’t overwinter in regions which experience extreme cold during winter. The pest will however move south from the warmer, northern parts of the country every year.