Fall Armyworm in maize spreads to TN; Karnataka takes steps to curb menace

Our Bureau | | Updated on: Aug 15, 2018

Fall Armyworm, a deadly and invasive pest, on a maize plant at a farm in Karur district, Tamil Nadu | Photo Credit: HANDOUT

TNAU scientists ask farmers not to panic

After causing alarm among maize growers in Karnataka, the Fall Armyworm has now surfaced in neighbouring Tamil Nadu.

While scientists at the Tamil Nadu Agriculture University have appealed against panicking over the incidence of the worm attack, the Karnataka Agriculture Department has quickly initiated measures to tackle the infestation.

“We have asked officials in the 12-13 affected districts to create awareness among farmers and take control measures. Farmers are being advised to take up sprays for management of the worm infestation, which has already started showing some results in Kalaburgi and Bagalkot districts,” said BY Srinivas, Director, Karnataka Agriculture Department.

Crop advisory

Farmers in Karnataka are advised to spray a mixture of thiamethoxam and lambdacyhalothrin or emamectin benzoate to manage the spread of these worms. These pesticides are being made available to farmers at subsidised rates, Srinivas said.

The incidence of this invasive pest — Spodoptera frugiperda — which originated in the US and spread to other countries such as Brazil, Argentina and Africa, was observed in maize hybrids sown during June-July in different districts of Karnataka and Tamil Nadu.

Symptoms of the attack

Scienists at the TNAU said the prevailing weather conditions like low temperature along with intermittent rains could be responsible for the severe outbreak of the pest. Since the worm is a weather-dependent pest, it can be managed easily with correct monitoring and early integrated action, said scientists led by AS Krishnamoorthy, Director, Centre for Plant Protection Studies, and others including N Muthukrishnan, S Jeyarajan Nelson and S Manimegalai — professors at the Department of Agricultural Entomology, TNAU.

“The adult moth lays eggs in groups covered with white hair on the upper surface of leaves. The larva has an inverted Y-mark on the head and cluster of 4 dots in the posterior abdominal region and is seen on leaves at central whorls. The larvae feed on the growing points by remaining inside the leaf whorl. The symptoms of damage are scrapping of leaves, pin holes, small to medium elongated holes, parallel shot holes, loss of top portion of leaves, fecal pellets in the leaf whorl, etc,” the scientists said by way of explaining the symptoms.

Area, output

Maize, the third most important cereal crop in the country after rice and wheat, has been planted on about 74.34 lakh hectares as on August 10.

The acreage this kharif season is marginally lower than corresponding last year’s 74.44 lakh ha.

So far, in Karnataka, maize has been planted on 10.34 lakh ha, higher than last year’s 9.04 lakh ha.

In Tamil Nadu, the kharif maize acreage is marginally lower at 0.16 lakh ha (0.17 lakh ha).

India’s maize production touched a record 26.88 million tonnes in 2017-18, with bulk of the output coming from the kharif season. In the previous year, maize output stood at 25.90 million tonnes.

Published on August 15, 2018
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