Tamil Nadu

Madurai farmers asked to beware of fall armyworm attack on maize

The effect of a fall armyworm attack on a maize at Mallayapuram near Sempatti in Dindigul district. File photo

The effect of a fall armyworm attack on a maize at Mallayapuram near Sempatti in Dindigul district. File photo  

With farmers in Madurai district expected to begin maize cultivation for this year, the Agriculture Department has released an advisory emphasising them to follow a coordinated action plan to prevent fall armyworm attack, which caused extensive crop damage in 2018.

A press release by the District Collector T.G. Vinay and Joint Director of Agriculture T. Vivekanandan, asked farmers to take precautionary measures against fall armyworm attack.

Maize is cultivated on around 15,000 hectares in the district in the blocks of Tirumangalam, Sedapatti, Chellampatti, Alanganallur, Usilampatti, Kallikudi and T. Kallupatti, said an official.

Explaining the ways to identify a fall armyworm, the official said a female moth lays 100 to 200 eggs inside the whorls of the leaves. “The worms that come off the eggs tend to eat the lower portion of the leaves, such that the colour of the leaves turn from green to white. Also, the worms can create a web and they shift from one crop to another depending on the direction of the wind,” he said.

Therefore, as a precautionary measure, farmers are asked to engage in summer ploughing and at the final stage apply 100 kg of neem cakes for an acre. It is also suggested that for 1 kg of maize seeds, farmers use 10 grams of a bio pesticide called Beauveria Bassiana or 10 grams of another insecticide called Thiamethoxam.

Light traps and pheromone traps must be used to monitor moth movement in the field before they lay eggs. Along with maize, other crops like cow pea, sunflower, gingelly and sorghum can be cultivated as intercrops or border crops. To protect the crop in its initial stages, the farmers can dilute 10 litres of water with bio pesticides like Azadirachtin (50 ml) or Metarhizium (80 ml).

When the fall armyworm attack is at peak, farmers can use insecticides suggested by the Agriculture Department. The release also stated that the insecticides should be sprayed inside the whorl of the leaves using hand sprayers.

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Printable version | Aug 13, 2020 8:28:06 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/tamil-nadu/madurai-farmers-asked-to-beware-of-fall-armyworm-attack-on-maize/article32080002.ece

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