According to press release from national agricultural organisation Agri SA, experts are predicting widespread infestation by fall armyworm across South Africa (SA), with the possible exclusion of the Western Cape.
Fall armyworm has infested South African farms, particularly in 5 districts in Limpopo Province, as well as parts of Mpumalanga and the Eastern Cape provinces.
The SA Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries (DAFF) has requested that farmers and agricultural organisations sharpen their monitoring and reporting efforts on the occurrence of this pest throughout the country. They are also encouraged to submit daily and weekly reports to DAFF for all new fall armyworm detected.
Kobus Steenekamp, Monsanto SA Managing Director, says the Yield Guard® II (MON89034) maize hybrid, which has been commercially available for SA maize farmers since 2010, is modified to provide protection against certain caterpillar pests, including maize stalk borers Busseola fusca and Chilo partellus, and fall armyworm.
He adds that YieldGard®II hybrids could be an important tool in integrated pest management programmes, utilising combinations of technologies and agronomic practices, to help protect maize crops.
“It is especially important to monitor the fields in cases where Roundup Ready® or conventional maize has been planted. It is of the utmost importance that farmers involve the assistance of their chemical representatives. Chemical control will only be effective if the larvae are controlled before they reach the maize cobs.
“It is therefore important to control the larvae in the early stages of development. The moths can travel over long distances with the wind which explains the fast outbreak over vast distances. The pest also caused a great deal of damage in maize fields in Zambia, Zimbabwe and Malawi, and it seems that it has been seen in Namibia as well,” says Steenekamp.
Agri SA advises that farmers first consult with chemical representatives before applying chemicals on the crop and welcomes the actions being taken by DAFF, including its making pesticides available to combat the spread of the pest.
Namibia braces for fresh outbreak of fall armyworm
Zambian budget to fight armyworms increased
Fall armyworm in Malawi declared a disaster
Pesticide resistant fall armyworm strain hits Zimbabwe