This serves as an advisory specifically for onion and escallion farmers in South St. Elizabeth. The Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries and RADA in collaboration with the Food and Agricultural Organization of the United Nations have implemented a project targeting the management of beet armyworm (BAW) on escallion and onion in South St. Elizabeth.
The parish received some rainfall which has resulted in rapid plant growth providing more food for an increasing beet armyworm population; conditions for the rapid buildup of the beet armyworm population exist, such as rainfall after a long drought period and the high day temperatures. Therefore, as a proactive measure the Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries and RADA are advising the following strategies to mitigate the further development of this pest at this time. Farmers are being advised to immediately do the following:
- Intensify the monitoring of their crops at least twice a week or every three days
- Continue to utilize the pheromone traps as a monitoring tool to detect the early arrival of the migrating beet armyworm adults (or bats)
- Monitor for the early detection of the egg sacs when deposited on the tip of leaves and for emergence of newly hatched worms within three days. This is critical as these are the most vulnerable and susceptible stages where cultural and chemical strategies are to be applied. Handpicking is recommended where practical.
- Use environmentally friendly products which encourages the presence of natural enemies (or farmers friends)
- Manage all weeds within and surrounding the fields which may harbour the pest
- Provide adequate nutrition to the crop
As a direct output of the project over 150 farmers have been trained in management of beet armyworm using the Farmer Field School Methodology and they will be better able to assist their fellow farmers in assessing beet armyworm field status and assist in management of the pest.
For further information please contact your nearest RADA office 1-888-ASK-RADA or the Research and Development Division, Plant Protection Unit (Bodles Research Station) in St. Catherine.