The Foundation for Arable Research (FAR) is an applied research and information transfer organisation responsible primarily to New Zealand arable growers.
Fall armyworm, which has devastated maize crops across the world, has arrived and established in mainland Australia.
The destructive pest was first detected on islands off the Torres Strait in early February, and has since been detected some 1000 miles south in areas of Queensland. Authorities have painted a grim picture, indicating that the adult moth’s ability to travel up to 100 kilometres a night means that it has never been eradicated, anywhere. In China, where it first arrived in January 2019, it has hit over a million hectares of farmland in the last year, mainly damaging corn and sugarcane crops.
Fall armyworm’s ability to spread quickly is matched only by its voracious appetite. The moths' larvae will feed on more than 350 types of plants, grasses and other crops, including wheat, corn and many vegetables. A dense infestation of caterpillars can destroy entire fields overnight.
Fall armyworm is very much on the radar of New Zealand border biosecurity services, and international specialists have been invited to meet with MPI and industry to discuss how to combat the threat. Currently, the main control options are insecticides; often used daily!
In the meantime, fall armyworm larvae are most active during late summer and early autumn months, so continue to be vigilant when attending to your crops.
How to spot a fall armyworm:
- Adults are 32 to 40 mm from wingtip to wingtip, with a brown or grey forewing, and a white hindwing.
- Males have more patterns and a white spot on each forewing.
- Light-coloured larvae with dark head, become browner as they grow, developing white lengthwise lines and dark spots with spines.
Pictures of fall armyworm larvae and adult moth (source: www.sanbi.org/animal-of-the-week/fall-armyworm)
In this issue of From the Ground Up
- Regenerative agriculture
- 20 t/ha by 2020 - how far did we get?
- Less seed, more profit?