The Sunday News
Dumisani Nsingo, Senior Farming Reporter
THE Department of Agricultural Technical and Extension Services (Agritex) has reported a fall armyworm infestation in Umguza District, Matabeleland North Province.
Matabeleland North provincial principal agronomist Mr Davison Masendeke said an infestation of fall armyworm in some parts of Umguza over the past two weeks was a threat to maize crop in that particular area.
“There is a continuous green in that area so there is ever a presence of fall armyworm. However, we have had a population build-up over the past weeks and the dry spell has created a conducive condition for them to multiply and it becomes difficult to control them. It’s, however, not an outbreak per se, it’s just a population build-up,” he said.
Fall armyworm can be one of the more difficult insect pests to control in field corn.
Late planted fields and late maturing hybrids are more likely to become infested. Fall armyworm causes serious leaf feeding damage as well as direct injury to the ear while fall armyworms can damage corn plants in nearly all stages of development, it will concentrate on later plantings that have not yet skilled.
“My advice to farmers in that particular area is for them to properly apply the recommended pesticides,” said Mr Masendeke.
In 2017, a Government research institution, Plant Protection Research Institute identified and recommended 10 pesticides for the eradication of fall armyworm.
The country lost most of its maize crop for the 2016/17 summer season due to an outbreak of fall armyworm.
Zimbabwe’s response to the outbreak of the fall armyworm was hampered by farmers’ lack of information and pesticides to fight it. This threatened to worsen the food insecurity situation as it targeted the staple crop — maize.