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Beet army worm alert issued for St Elizabeth farmers

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THE Ministry of Industry, Commerce, Agriculture and Fisheries is encouraging farmers in sections of St Elizabeth to employ beet army worm management strategies to counter the increase in the pest’s population.

The beet army worm affects crops such as scallion and onion, and typically the southern region of the island.

The Rural Agricultural Development Authority (RADA) says its latest assessment indicates the possibility of an outbreak of the pest in Junction and Southfield if preventative action is not taken by farmers.

As such, farmers are being encouraged to implement beet army worm management strategies once the threshold of one worm per five plants monitored is observed.

Farmers are also advised to increase field monitoring to at least twice per week (every three days) looking for egg sacks and young worms.

The ministry has recommended that farmers delay expansion of scallion fields during this period and ensure that beet army worm pheromone traps are in place to help detect any changes in the pest’s population.

The beet army worm favours crops such as pepper, pumpkin or melon, so farmers should avoid planting them as the threat of the pest looms. Waste crop should also be removed immediately after scallion-stripping activities, the ministry advised.

The ministry has, meanwhile, urged farmers in the surrounding areas of New Forest, Cross Keys, New Port and Malvern in Manchester, and Pedro Plains, St Elizabeth to exercise vigilance in monitoring their fields.

For further information, farmers are encouraged to call 1-888-ASK-RADA or visit their nearest office or the Research and Development Division, Plant Protection Unit (Bodles Research Station) in St Catherine.

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