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An unprecedented outbreak of African bollworm in canola and wheat in the Western Cape triggered fears that plant pests may explode in the forthcoming growth season. Reports of very large numbers of moths trapped in pheromone traps in other parts of South Africa indicate a very challenging season ahead for farmers.
South African farmers managed to beat the fall army worm to a large extent in the previous summer but it is likely that this invasive pest may emerge again in summer rainfall areas and also in the Western Cape. Reports of the tomato leaf miner are also coming in which add to the problems farmers will be facing during the growth season.
CropLife South Africa urges producers to invest in scientific monitoring tools such as pheromone traps and to start pest vigilance programmes in all crops. Pests are likely to become bolder due to extreme climatic conditions and it is likely that pest outbreaks will also become more extreme due to climate change. Early detection of plant pests should become standard practice for all farmers to ensure that pests can be effectively controlled before they inflict serious damage to crops. It is well known that larvae reaching their adult stages are very difficult, if not impossible, to control even with very toxic insecticides.
Detecting pest invasions early gives farmers the opportunity to bring such pests effectively under control effectively in an environmentally compatible and cost-effective manner. Many maize farmers learnt these lessons last season when the fall army worm invaded critically important maize areas in South Africa. Pheromone traps for Lepidoptera and other pests are commercially available from CropLife SA members as well as SA Bioproducts Organisation members. Farmers should consult their CropLife SA accredited agents for pheromone traps and use them as early warning mechanisms against pest outbreaks.
CropLife SA is working closely with the Registrar of Act No. 36 of 1947 to find solutions to the pest problems that farmers are facing. Farmers are advised to only use registered pesticides and to refrain from using products off-label, meaning using it for purposes or in manners other than what the labels indicate. No registration holder will assume responsibility for product failure or crop damage if pesticides are not used strictly according to label instructions. Should no registered pesticides be available for a particular situation, the industry will work closely with the Registrar to lodge and process emergency registration applications.
Pests to be on the lookout for during the next few weeks include African bollworm on all crops including vegetable crops, African armyworm, fall armyworm, false armyworm, tomato leaf miner,
Oriental fruit fly, stalk borer, thrips and whitefly. Farmers need to report any suspected outbreak of fall army worm to their closest agriculture officials or send a picture to CropLife SA on whatsapp to 082-446-8946. CropLife SA will report any confirmed fall armyworm infestations to the relevant authorities at the Department of Agriculture.
Information about registered pesticides is available on the CropLife SA AgriIntel Database www.agri-intel.com. A simple registration process will grant free access to the website for easy interrogation on the AgriIntel system.