Widespread worm infestation detected on maize crops in various parts of the district, threatening large scale loss in the yield, is causing concern among the farming fraternity.
The outbreak was mainly traced on ‘standing maize crop’ in Pethappampatti, Udumalpet and Madathukulam areas.
Of the total 22,000 acre brought under maize cultivation in these areas this season, about 200 acres have already come under the worm attack.
A team of experts from the Department of Agriculture, who had visited the affected areas recently identified the creature as ‘helicoverba armigera’.
“This worm mainly attacks cotton and maize,” Assistant Director of Agriculture S. Tom Sailesh told The Hindu.
According to Dr. Sailesh, the worm infestation will not be causing much economical loss since it attacked mainly the fully grown and matured corncobs in maize plants.
“As the worms feed only on the milky portion of the cobs, about 90 per cent portion of fully grown cobs are remaining intact, thus, avoiding huge losses to the farmers,” he said.
But in the case of younger corncobs in the milky stage, the attack could destroy the produce fully over the next few days.
“To kill the worms, the farmers were being advised by the agriculture experts to spray chloripyriphos mixed in water at the ratio of 2 ml: one litre or endo sulphur diluted in water at 5 ml: one litre on the affected areas.
E. I. Jonathan, Director of Centre for Plant Protection Studies, Tamil Nadu Agriculture University, said that as preventive measure, farmers should adopt ‘summer ploughing’ techniques, which would kill the eggs of the worm laid on the wet soil, and also crop rotation every season.