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Fall armyworm update (November)

To date there have been no findings on fall armyworm since the winter.

FAW was first detected in New Zealand in March 2022. FAR is a member of Seed and Grain Readiness and Response (SGRR) along with partners Federated Farmers Arable, NZ Grain and Seed Trade, United Wheat Growers and NZ Flour Millers Association; and SGRR, along with other affected sectors (mainly fresh and process sweetcorn growers) is part of the Biosecurity NZ response. Response activities include a network of monitor traps to detect fall armyworm moths. These have been placed at the 26 sites where FAW was detected in autumn, and at another 95 sites on ‘sentinel crops’ throughout the country.

The response group has contracted AgResearch’s B3 specialist team, led by Scott Hardwick, to model the possible pathways for the dispersal of FAW and coordinate the information coming from the trap network.

As this is a warm climate pest, it is expected that the first detections for this season may occur in the northern regions; however, it is really important to monitor crops in all regions for any signs of damage or egg masses. Information on what to look for can be found in the fall armyworm identification guide.

A series of FAW workshops have been held in Gisborne, Pukekohe, Northland and Waikato, with another planned for Hawke’s Bay on 30 November. There has been a very good turn-out of growers and industry reps at the workshops to date. The response team is working in collaboration with Fruit Fed Supplies, LeaderBrand and Pioneer Seeds in different regions to have a greater reach with the scouting and capturing weekly information from the traps which are being deployed. 

For any suspected findings please contact the MPI hotline (0800 80 99 66) or online https://report.mpi.govt.nz/pest . There are no negative consequences for growers reporting FAW on their crops and it will allow early control of the pest if detected. As FAW has not yet officially established in New Zealand, there are no chemicals listed ‘on label’ for its control. However, some products being fast tracked for approval so they could be applied in an emergency response situation. For options that can be used contact your industry reps.