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Fall armyworm ‘worsens hunger among smallholders’

maize farm

Maize farmer inspecting her crops. Copyright: Axel Fassio/CIFORCC BY-NC-ND 2.0

Speed read

  • Fall armyworm destroys maize worth almost US$5 billion annually in 12 African countries
  • In a Zimbabwe study, the pest increased likelihood of hunger by 12 per cent
  • Farmers need cost-effective, environmentally sustainable control measures, experts say
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By: Onyango Nyamol

[NAIROBI] The invasive crop pest fall armyworm is well known for its devastating effects on maize yields in Africa, but few studies have been done on its broader impact on poverty levels and food security.

Now a study in Zimbabwe has found that smallholder maize-growing households blighted by fall armyworm are more likely to experience hunger and could see their income almost halved in severe cases, highlighting the urgency of strategies to tackle the pest.

“Our study suggests that the outbreak is threatening food security and negatively affecting farmers’ livelihoods, hence urgent actions are needed.”

Justice Tambo, CABI

According to the study, estimates from 12 maize‐producing countries in Sub-Saharan Africa including Benin, Cameroon, Ethiopia, Ghana, Malawi, Mozambique, Nigeria, Tanzania, Uganda, Zambia and Zimbabwe indicate that without control measures, the pest could cause maize losses of up to 17.7 million tonnes, translating into revenue loss of up to almost US$5 billion a year.

But researchers say that the negative impacts of the pest are far more than yield losses, with the potential to significantly impact food security and livelihoods.

The study, published in Food and Energy Security last month (15 March), shows that households affected by fall armyworm were 11 per cent more likely to experience food shortages, while their members had a 13 per cent higher likelihood of going to bed hungry or a whole day without eating. It also found that found that severe levels of infestation reduced per capita household income by 44 per cent.

“Our study suggests that the outbreak is threatening food security and negatively affecting farmers’ livelihoods, hence urgent actions are needed to address the menace posed by fall armyworm,” says Justice Tambo, the study’s lead author and a socio-economist at the Centre for Agriculture and Bioscience International (CABI, the parent organisation of SciDev.Net).

According to the study, fall armyworm was first reported in Zimbabwe during the 2016 and 2017 cropping season, and has continued to spread in subsequent seasons.

Researchers used survey data from 350 smallholder maize-growing households in six of Zimbabwe’s main maize production provinces. Data was collected in September 2018 by CABI in collaboration with Zimbabwe Plant Quarantine and Plant Protection Research Services Institute.

“We decided to conduct this study to provide evidence [of] how the fall armyworm outbreak is affecting farmers’ livelihoods beyond reductions in maize yields,” Tambo says. “While fall armyworm cannot be eradicated, taking actions to at least prevent severe level of infestation can significantly reduce welfare losses in terms of income and food security.”

Boddupalli Prasanna, director of the global maize programme at the International Maize and Wheat Improvement Center, tells SciDev.Net that fall armyworm is a serious concern to resource-constrained smallholders who have multiple challenges to tackle.

“We certainly need to provide effective, scalable and affordable technologies to the farming communities to combat the pest in a sustainable manner. Farmers cannot afford to rely on expensive chemical pesticides to and control fall armyworm,” says Prasanna, who was not involved in the study.

https://www.buzzsprout.com/1257893/8247114-in-africa-music-is-life-and-health?client_source=small_player&iframe=true&referrer=https://www.buzzsprout.com/1257893/8247114-in-africa-music-is-life-and-health.js?container_id=buzzsprout-player-8247114&player=small
Prasanna adds that there is no single specific technology that can provide sustainable control of a pest like fall armyworm.

“We need to adopt an integrated pest management (IPM) strategy, including effective integration of improved varieties with resistance to the pest, environmentally safer pesticides, biological control … and good agronomic practices,” he says. “We need to [increase] extensive awareness among extension agents and farming communities about IPM strategy for the control of fall armyworm.”

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According to Tambo, the findings have implications for policymakers, researchers and farmers. Farmers need to adopt low-risk pesticides products such as biopesticides, and combine them with safe non-chemical options including rotation and intercropping with other crops such as beans and cassava, he explains.

This piece was produced by SciDev.Net’s Sub-Saharan Africa English desk.

References

Justice A. Tambo and others Impact of fall armyworm invasion on household income and food security in Zimbabwe (Food and Energy Security, 15 March 2020)

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ToBRFV resistant tomatoes

In 2020, Enza Zaden announced the discovery of the tomato brown rugose fruit virus (ToBRFV) High Resistance gene, a complete solution for ToBRFV. Since the announcement, we’ve worked hard with resistant trials material achieving excellent results. “We see no symptoms at all in the plants, while the disease pressure is very high,” says Oscar Lara, Senior Tomato Product Specialist, about the first trials in Mexico.

No symptoms at all
At the Enza Zaden trial location in Mexico, the high resistance (HR) varieties are placed next to susceptible ones. There you can clearly see the difference. The susceptible tomato varieties show different foliage disorders such as a yellow mosaic pattern. The affected plants also stay behind in growth.

“You can clearly see how well our high resistant varieties withstand ToBRFV,” says Oscar Lara. “In comparison to the plants of susceptible varieties, the resistant ones look very healthy with a dark green colour, show no symptoms at all and have good growth. All our trialled HR tomato varieties do not show any symptoms at all.”

Exciting news
Enza Zaden is running parallel tests in different countries with varieties with high resistance to ToBRFV. “Our trials in Europe, North America, and the Middle East show that we have qualitatively good tomato cultivars with a confirmed high resistance level,” says Kees Könst, Crop research Director. “This is exciting news for all parties involved in the tomato growing industry. We know there is a lot at stake for our customers, so we continue to work hard to make HR varieties available for the market. We expect to have these ready in the coming years,” says Könst.

High performing and high resistance
Enza Zaden has a long history in breeding tomatoes. “We have an extended range of tomato varieties, from large beef to tasty vine tomatoes (truss tomatoes) and from baby plum tomatoes to pink varieties for the Asian market. This basis of high performing varieties combined with the gene we discovered, will enable us to deliver the high performing varieties with high resistance to ToBRFV.”

Why is a high resistance level so critical?
“With an intermediate resistance (IR) level, the virus propagation is delayed but ToBRFV can still enter tomato plants – plants that may eventually show symptoms,” says Könst. “With a high resistance level, plants and fruits do not host the virus at all. This means they won’t be a source for spreading the virus and that the detection test will come back negative. Growing a variety with high resistance can be the difference between making a profit or losing the crop.”For more information Enza Zadeninfo@enzazaden.com
www.enzazaden.com

Publication date: Tue 13 Apr 2021

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GarciaArocajpg.jpg

Teddy Garcia-Aroca, an LSU Ph.D. student, holds a sample of a fungus he found and named that causes the disease soybean taproot decline.Discovery just “tip of the iceberg” as scientists strive to learn more about this devastating soybean disease.

Bruce Shultz, Louisiana State University | Apr 13, 2021

An LSU graduate student has identified and named a new species of fungus that causes a devastating soybean disease. 

LSU doctoral student Teddy Garcia-Aroca identified and named the fungus Xylaria necrophora, the pathogen that causes soybean taproot decline. He chose the species name necrophora after the Latin form of the Greek word “nekros,” meaning “dead tissue,” and “-phorum,” a Greek suffix referring to a plant’s stalk. https://f51f4f44a38d9cb02edf74f97f4f06e6.safeframe.googlesyndication.com/safeframe/1-0-38/html/container.html

“It’s certainly a great opportunity for a graduate student to work on describing a new species,” said Vinson Doyle, LSU AgCenter plant pathologist and co-advisor on the research project. “It opens up a ton of questions for us. This is just the tip of the iceberg.” 

Taproot decline

The fungus infects soybean roots, causing them to become blackened while causing leaves to turn yellow or orange with chlorosis. The disease has the potential to kill the plant. 

“It’s a big problem in the northeast part of the state,” said Trey Price, LSU AgCenter plant pathologist who is Garcia-Aroca’s major professor and co-advisor with Doyle. 

“I’ve seen fields that suffered a 25% yield loss, and that’s a conservative estimate,” Price said. Heather Kellytaproot decline in soybeans

Yellowing leaves are early symptoms of taproot decline in soybeans.

Louisiana soybean losses from the disease total more than one million bushels per year. 

Price said the disease has been a problem for many years as pathologists struggled to identify it. Some incorrectly attributed it to related soybean diseases such as black-root rot. 

“People called it the mystery disease because we didn’t know what caused it.” 

Price said while Garcia-Aroca was working on the cause of taproot decline, so were labs at the University of Arkansas and Mississippi State University. 

Price said the project is significant. “It’s exciting to work on something that is new. Not many have the opportunity to work on something unique.” 

Research 

Garcia-Aroca compared samples of the fungus that he collected from infected soybeans in Louisiana, Arkansas, Tennessee, Mississippi and Alabama with samples from the LSU Herbarium and 28 samples from the U.S. National Fungus Collections that were collected as far back as the 1920s. 

Some of these historical samples were collected in Louisiana sugarcane fields, but were not documented as pathogenic to sugarcane. In addition, non-pathogenic samples from Martinique and Hawaii were also used in the comparison, along with the genetic sequence of a sample from China. 

Garcia-Aroca said these historical specimens were selected because scientists who made the earlier collections had classified many of the samples as the fungus Xylaria arbuscula that causes diseases on macadamia and apple trees, along with sugarcane in Indonesia. But could genetic testing of samples almost 100 years old be conducted? “It turns out it was quite possible,” he said. 

DNA sequencing showed a match for Xylaria necrophora for five of these historical, non-pathogenic samples — two from Louisiana, two from Florida, and one from the island of Martinique in the Caribbean — as well as DNA sequences from the non-pathogenic specimen from China. All of these were consistently placed within the same group as the specimens causing taproot decline on soybeans. 

Why now? 

Garcia-Aroca said a hypothesis that could explain the appearance of the pathogen in the region is that the fungus could have been in the soil before soybeans were grown, feeding on decaying wild plant material, and it eventually made the jump to live soybeans. 

Arcoa’s study poses the question of why the fungus, after living off dead woody plant tissue, started infecting live soybeans in recent years. “Events underlying the emergence of X. necrophora as a soybean pathogen remain a mystery,” the study concludes. 

But he suggests that changes in the environment, new soybean genetics and changes in the fungal population may have resulted in the shift. 

The lifespan of the fungus is not known, Garcia-Aroca said, but it thrives in warmer weather of at least 80 degrees. Freezing weather may kill off some of the population, he said, but the fungus survives during the winter by living on buried soybean plant debris left over from harvest. It is likely that soybean seeds become infected with the fungus after coming in contact with infected soybean debris from previous crops. These hypotheses remain to be tested. 

Many of the fungal samples were collected long before soybeans were a major U.S. crop, Doyle said. “The people who collected them probably thought they weren’t of much importance.” 

Garcia-Aroca said this illustrates the importance of conducting scientific exploration and research as well as collecting samples from the wild. “You never know what effect these wild species have on the environment later on.” 

What’s next? 

Now that the pathogen has been identified, Price said, management strategies need to be refined. Crop rotation and tillage can be used to reduce incidence as well as tolerant varieties. 

“We’ve installed an annual field screening location at the Macon Ridge Research Station where we provide taproot decline rating information for soybean varieties,” Price said. “In-furrow and fungicide seed treatments may be a management option, and we have some promising data on some materials. However, some of the fungicides aren’t labeled, and we need more field data before we can recommend any.” 

He said LSU, Mississippi State and University of Arkansas researchers are collaborating on this front. 

Doyle said Garcia-Aroca proved his work ethic on this project. “It’s tedious work and just takes time. Teddy has turned out to be very meticulous and detailed.” 

The final chapter in Garcia-Aroca’s study, Doyle said, will be further research into the origins of this fungus and how it got to Louisiana. Source: Louisiana State University, which is solely responsible for the information provided and is wholly owned by the source. Informa Business Media and all its subsidiaries are not responsible for any of the content contained in this information asset.  

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The Weather Network

Invasive species’ staggering damage: $1.3 trillion since 1970

Daniel Martins
Digital Reporter

Monday, April 5th 2021, 3:15 pm – The estimated cost of invasive species continues to increase, tripling every decade.

https://www.theweathernetwork.com/videoplayer/1942203455001/B1CSR9sVf/6246448115001?autoplay=true

Conservationists have always said invasive species can have a devastating impact, but now we have a clearer idea of the dollar-figure cost: A little under US$1.3 trillion (C$1.62 trillion) in the nearly four decades between 1970 and 2017.

That’s according to a new study led by scientists in France, which calculated a “minimum” of $1.288 trillion of damage over that time period – about the size of the economy of Egypt or Australia at purchasing power parity (PPP).

On an annualized basis, that comes to US$26.8 billion (C$33.57 billion), similar to New Brunswick’s annual GDP. But that 37-year annual average figure obscures a worrying trend: The yearly cost of invasive species has been steadily growing, reaching US$162.7 billion (C$204 billion) in 2017, the last year of data the researchers included in the study.

“These costs remain strongly underestimated and do not show any sign of slowing down, exhibiting a consistent threefold increase per decade,” the researchers say. “We show that the documented costs are widely distributed and have strong gaps at regional and taxonomic scales, with damage costs being an order of magnitude higher than management expenditures.”

Aedes mosquito Wikimedia Commons Muhammad Mahdi Karim 

A mosquito of the aedes genus, which includes several varieties that are invasive species in some countries. Image credit: Muhammad Mahdi Karim/Wikimedia Commons.

Invasive species are species that move into environments where they were previously unknown, and where they may have no natural predators. In most cases, they are introduced by humans, whether knowingly or not, but can also expand their habitat due to climate change. Their spread can impact biodiversity and environmental health, but also have major economic impacts as well.

In Canada, for example, the forests in some provinces have been threatened by the invasive Asian long-horned beetle or emerald ash borer, while food chains in the Great Lakes have been under pressure from zebra and quagga mussels.

They can also impact public health, as some of the most invasive species are mosquitos, which can carry diseases into new areas.

The researchers based their analysis on 850 studies covering more than 2,400 cost estimates, and stress that their economic damage calculations are conservative.

“Research approaches that document the costs of biological invasions need to be further improved,” they warn. “Nonetheless, our findings call for the implementation of consistent management actions and international policy agreements that aim to reduce the burden of invasive alien species.”

The study was published in the journal *Nature* last month.

WATCH: HOW TO SPOT AN INVASIVE PLANT SPECIES, AND WHAT TO DO NEXT

https://www.theweathernetwork.com/videoplayer/1942203455001/default/6201787383001

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Damage from invasive species ‘trebling every decade’

Mosquitoes, rats and termites among species that have hitched ride on trade routes, causing at least $1.3tn of damage

Fall armyworm
The fall armyworm arrived in Africa in 2016 and has now invaded dozens of countries. Photograph: Grant Heilman Photography/Alamy

Damian Carrington Environment editor@dpcarringtonWed 31 Mar 2021 11.00 EDT

The costs of damage caused by invasions of alien species across the world is trebling every decade, research has found.

Mosquitoes, rats, ragweeds and termites are among the species that have hitched a ride on globalised trade routes, bringing disease, crop destruction and damage to buildings. The scientists calculated the costs at $1.3tn (£944bn) since 1970, and said even this “staggering sum” was likely to be a big underestimate as much damage is unreported.

The rapidly growing costs show no sign of slowing down, the researchers said, and are more than 10 times higher than the funding for preventing or dealing with these biological invasions. They said global action to combat invasive species remained limited, mostly because the “profound” impacts are poorly understood by the public and politicians.

Mosquitoes from the Aedes genus, such as the tiger mosquito, spread Zika, dengue, yellow fever and other viruses, and were responsible for the biggest recorded costs. Invasive rodents such as the black rat, grey squirrel, coypu and house mouse also cause severe damage to human health, crops and food stores and to native wildlife.

Formosan termites, voracious consumers of wood, are a particular problem in the US, while the red fire ant has spread from its South American home to Australia, New Zealand, several Asian and Caribbean countries and the US. The fall armyworm, which can destroy many crops, arrived in Africa in 2016 and has now invaded dozens of countries.

“The economic costs of invasive alien species since 1970 are tremendous, steadily increasing, but still massively underestimated,” said Christophe Diagne, at the Université Paris-Saclay, France, and who led the research. He said the rising damage mirrored the growth of international trade and the expanding area of farmland and settlements that the invaders can damage.Advertisement

Prof Corey Bradshaw, of Flinders University in Australia, who was part of the study team, said: “The quicker you detect invasive species and the quicker you act, the cheaper it is in the long run. So really good detection at ports and airports and then rapid responses are going to cost you orders of magnitude less money than the damage.”

He said consumers ended up paying for the damage via increased prices for food and other products, and higher healthcare costs.

The research, published in the journal Nature, analysed more than 1,300 estimates of damage by invasive animals and plants. Costs were highest in the US, India, China and Brazil, but this probably reflects where the problems have been most reported. There is little or no data in many other parts of the world.

Some earlier cost estimates indicated much higher damages – as much as $1.4tn a year – but Bradshaw said these were largely based on poor or speculative assessments. “Some were not even ‘back of the envelope’ – there was no envelope,” he said.

The new analysis was deliberately conservative, using only estimates based on observed data. “But there are so many unquantifiables from a monetary perspective, like ecosystem damage and lost productivity, so it’s still the tip of the iceberg,” said Bradshaw. The true costs could be 10 times higher, he said.

Biological invasions are known to be increasing and so the rising cost estimates are unlikely to be solely the result of increased reporting of damage. Either way, the scientists said, “they robustly show staggering amounts” and “a huge economic burden”.

Prof Helen Roy, of the UK Centre for Ecology & Hydrology, who was not part of the research team, said: “The most important aspect of this research is showing the rising costs, regardless of the exact figure. Overall it is a very useful paper and has some excellent recommendations. It also gives some cause for optimism – there are ways to prevent arrival or manage invasive alien species that become established.”

Bradshaw said cinnamon fungus, which rots the roots of plants including grape vines, was one of Australia’s most damaging invasive species. “I have a little farm and it’s killed all of my chestnuts. So we’re slowly replacing those with trees that are resistant”.

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Plantwise Blog

You are here: Plantwise Blog

April 7, 2021

James Cullum

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Update: New Pest & Disease Records (07 April 2021)

This month’s pest alerts include the first record of Viburnum leaf beetle Pyrrhalta viburni in Bosnia and Herzegovina (Image by
Hectonichus
)

We’ve selected a few of the latest new geographic, host and species records for plant pests and diseases from CAB Abstracts. Records this month include the first report of Apiognomonia errabunda on Quercus ilex in Algeria and the first record of Viburnum leaf beetle Pyrrhalta viburni in Bosnia and Herzegovina.

To view all search results for new geographic, host and species records for plant pests and diseases, click here or to view results by your location click here.

If there’s another new record you’d like to highlight, please post a comment.

View past pest alerts

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Half of Sicilian companies report Tomato Brown Rugose Fruit Virus infections

A convention discussed the spreading of ToBRFV in Sicily.

TBRFV symptoms on leaves 

“It is difficult to detect the disease, as symptoms are almost invisible, so it is important for qualified personnel to perform tests. Plants can in fact remain asymptomatic until the temperature suddenly changes making the disease manifest. At this point, the virus has already propagated considerably. Over the past two years, we have noticed a lack of communication from companies, as they fear reporting the virus would lead to crops being uprooted,” explained Prof. Walter Davino.

Currently, around 45% of companies with protected crops report Tomato Brown Rugose Fruit Virus infections. In Sicily, the problem manifested in the fall of 2018 and FreshPlaza was the first to report the news. What has not worked? 

Walter Davino

According to Davino, “no alert was made, no containment measure was implemented. In 2018, there was no quick and effective detection method and producers tended not to report the problem.” 

“In the meantime, however, we have set up the Network Mini Lab project to identify and track the virus starting from the nurseries.” 

Stefano Panno, researcher at the University of Palermo, talked about “Early diagnoses and field diagnoses – essential tools to contain viral diseases”, and Domenico Carta, Manager of the plant protection and counterfeiting service for Regione Sicilia, also spoke. Dario Cartabellotta, general manager of the Regional Council for Agriculture, concluded the event.

“Considering the significant danger of the virus reducing tomato production especially in greenhouses, the Department of Agriculture, together with the Plant Protection Service, has paid the utmost attention to monitoring the disease and trace the movements of infected seeds and plants. The situation will only get worse until resistant varieties are found. It is not possible to treat affected crops, so prevention is the only weapon we have.”

Dario Cartabellotta

“On a Community level, the problem was tackled with two regulations listing mandatory phytosanitary measures. In early February 2021, the work of the Department of Agriculture – Plant Protection Service was audited by the European Commission, which informally attested our correct application of the regulations,” added Cartabellotta.

“I would like to stress the considerable effort the EU requires of us to maintain an acceptable level of plant protection. We are about to publish a new national regulation that will require additional and complex measures to be implemented by our Administration.”

Publication date: Fri 5 Mar 2021
© HortiDaily.com

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Fightback starts against fall armyworm

Published Yesterday at 09:35 AM

Minister for Agricultural Industry Development and Fisheries and Minister for Rural Communities
The Honourable Mark Furner

The Queensland Department of Agriculture and Fisheries (DAF) has received approval to import a biopesticide for research purposes, marking a significant step in the fight to combat fall armyworm (FAW).

Minister for Agricultural Industry Development and Fisheries and Minister for Rural Communities Mark Furner said the Federal Department of Agriculture, Water and the Environment (DAWE) approval to import Fawligen® meant the Queensland Government could start working on management packages for impacted industries.

“Since the initial detection of FAW in Australia in January 2020, DAF has worked closely with industry to find ways to address the threat posed by this voracious invasive pest to Queensland’s agriculture industry,” Mr Furner said.

“Fawligen® is a biopesticide targeting the FAW caterpillar which ingests virus particles, becomes infected and dies, spreading the virus to other FAW larvae in the crop.

“DAF first applied in March 2020 to bring Fawligen®, which is produced in the US by Australian company AgBiTech, into Australia.

“Getting DAWE’s approval to import Fawligen®, a naturally occurring caterpillar virus which targets FAW, is a key step forward as it has the potential to be a game changer for producers.”

Mr Furner said having access to Fawligen® would allow DAF researchers to immediately commence small scale work with AgBiTech to assess its performance on FAW populations, under local conditions and in various crops. 

“This will generate information for an Australian Pesticides and Veterinary Authority (APVMA) regulatory submission,” Mr Furner said.

“Natural biological control agents, like Fawligen®, reduce grower reliance on conventional insecticides for FAW control, reducing the risk of insecticide resistance development.

“Another significant advantage of this biopesticide is that it only kills the FAW and is non-toxic to beneficial organisms including honeybees and beneficial natural enemies such as spiders, wasps and ladybeetles.”

AgBiTech’s General Manager for Australia, Philip Armytage, said in response to the spread and rise of FAW as a global pest, in 2015 AgBiTech established a production facility in the US to manufacture Fawligen® for Brazil and other global markets.

“At the time, Fawligen® could not be produced in Australia as the FAW was not present,” Mr Armytage said.

“Globally, Fawligen® is AgBiTech’s biggest product by volume, and we are excited to be able to bring our technology back home to Australia for our farmers.

“We will accelerate the project, working closely with DAF and use all our international experience to support the commencement of the registration work as soon as possible.”

Mr Furner said DAF had a long history of working closely with AgBiTech in supporting the development of the Helicoverpa biocontrol ViVUS Max® in the early 2000s. 

“Australia is the global leader in the use of native and introduced biocontrol agents,” he said.

“We have seen excellent results in the control of similar caterpillar pests such as Helicoverpa as well as with silverleaf whitefly and prickly pear.

“In the meantime, growers should remain vigilant for the presence of FAW and check for the latest insecticide permits applying to fall armyworm using the APVMA’s permit portal.”

The latest advice about the impacts and management of fall armyworm on key crops can be found on the fall armyworm web page at business.qld.gov.au/fallarmyworm.

ENDS

Minister Furner media contact:                   Ron Goodman            0427 781 920

AgBiTech / Fawligen media contact:         Philip Armytage          0488 263585

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Spotted lanternfly is an incredibly good hitchhiker

TAGS: INSECTSORCHARD CROPSINSECTICIDECROPSarlutz73 / iStock / Getty Images Plusspotted-lanternfly-GettyImages-1054495206.jpgA key Concern is the wide host range of the spotted lanternfly. Be on the lookout for the spotted lantern fly and let NCDACS know if you see it.

John Hart | Jan 05, 2021https://66aab2f6763b501391485cbd0d058ae2.safeframe.googlesyndication.com/safeframe/1-0-37/html/container.html

The spotted lanternfly is the newest invasive pest that has entomologists across the country worried.

In a talk to the virtual North Carolina Crop Protection School, Whitney Swink, state regulatory entomologist with the North Carolina Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, gave the rundown on the spotted lanternfly and urged farmers and others to be on the lookout for the pest and let NCDACS know if they see it.https://66aab2f6763b501391485cbd0d058ae2.safeframe.googlesyndication.com/safeframe/1-0-37/html/container.html

Swink said like many invasive pests, the spotted lanternfly is native to Asia, specifically northern China, Vietnam and Bangladesh. It was first introduced into Korea in 2004 and became a major pest there on peaches and grapevines among other plants.

It was found in Pennsylvania in 2014 and there are known infestations in Connecticut, Delaware, Maryland, Ohio, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, New York, Virginia and West Virginia.

Swink said a key concern is the wide host range of the spotted lanternfly. The insect is a pest of apples, blueberries, cherries, grapes, hops, maples, all stone fruits, walnuts and willows. More than 75 species of woody plants have been identified as hosts; Swink said the list continues to grow.

“We recently found out that chinaberry is a host. That is a big concern to us because we have a lot of that, especially in eastern North Carolina,” Swink said.

Another concern is that Tree of Heaven, which is found all over North Carolina, especially west of I-95, is the favorite food of the spotted lanternfly. “It will choose Tree of Heaven over pretty much anything else,” Swink warned.

Swink said the spotted lanternfly has been spotted in Tree of Heaven in eastern North Carolina, but it is still too early to know how active the pest has been in the state. However, she encouraged everyone to be on the lookout for the insect.

The adult spotted lanternfly is quite large, about an inch from head to wingtip. “Because they are plant hoppers, they are very poor flyers. They more glide than fly. They are quite prolific and active from mid- to later-summer through the winter. Here in North Carolina they can possibly be found even into December,” Swink said.

The forewing of the spotted lanternfly is grey with black spots and the wings tips are reticulated black blocks outlined in grey. The hind wings have contrasting patches of red and black with a white band. The legs and head are black; the abdomen is yellow with broad black bands.

“In all of the life stages —eggs, instars and adults —spotted lanternflies are incredibly good hitchhikers. They can cling to pretty much any surface. They can cling to vehicles on roads travelling 65 mph or more,” she said.

“One of the key things that spotted lanternflies do is they produce copious, copious amounts of honeydew. Essentially, they are pooping sugar water. With one insect doing that, it’s not a big deal, but if you start exponentially increasing how many are doing this, you have a problem,” she explained.RELATEDControlling herbicide resistance takes persuadingJanuary 4, 2021Battle against pesticide opponents becoming more pronouncedDecember 22, 2020Building respect and value for soybeansNovember 24, 2020

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Cedar fight goes across fence and state lines

TAGS: CONSERVATIONLIVESTOCKCurt ArensA few members of the Bristow, Neb. area crew pose in front of the trucks they purchased to help on prescribed burnsCRUCIAL CREW: A few members of the Bristow, Neb., area crew pose in front of the trucks they bought to help on prescribed burns. Over the past eight years, this group has burned more than 30,000 acres in their fight to reclaim grasslands from invasive eastern red cedar.Working together has been a successful formula for Nebraska and South Dakota advocates of prescribed fire.

Curt Arens | Dec 23, 2020

Gathering landowners to work together on prescribed burn projects has been a winning model in the successful defeat of eastern red cedar encroachment on grazing lands. Normally, prescribed burn associations work across fence lines with neighboring landowners.

Over the past decade, eastern members of the Niobrara Valley Prescribed Fire Association, covering much of north-central Nebraska, have not only reached across fence lines, but also state lines into neighboring South Dakota, to beat the invasion of ERC.

Related: New strategy in battle against invasive cedars

It started in 2010 when Jerald Dennis, Bristow, Neb., sheared ERC trees in a large portion of family-owned grasslands on the south shore of Lake Francis Case in South Dakota, behind Fort Randall Dam. He piled the dead cedar trees for curing. In 2011, Dennis deferred grazing on the tract, to grow fuel for the prescribed burn he was planning the following spring.

“It took an entire year to plan the burn, coordinating between five landowners, four government agencies along with local law enforcement and fire departments,” Dennis explains. On that burn with Dennis, Dave Steffen from Gregory, S.D., and other interested landowners in the area watched as observers.

Dennis has worked at Nebraska State Bank in Bristow for nearly 40 years. Most of that time, he has also served on the Bristow Fire Department. His family owns about 2,000 acres of pasture in both states, so he’s been involved in prescribed burning for the past 13 years. The Prescribed Fire Association that Dennis works with has conducted burns on just over 30,000 acres since 2012.

They normally develop their burn schedule at a meeting each February, so 10 to 12 people can plan to be involved with each burn. The local members of the association bought two Army surplus pickup trucks to transport skid water pumping units with 250-gallon tanks, hoses and a reel they borrow from the Nebraska Game and Parks Commission.

The burn near Fort Randall encompassed 3,145 acres. “We had a well-seasoned crew of 12 from Nebraska working that burn,” Dennis says. “It also helped that we had Lake Francis Case to the north and a highway to the south.”

Steffen watched the Nebraska crew and became interested in conducting more prescribed burns locally. “The following year, Steffen and a few other interested parties came down from South Dakota and attended our local meeting, and a few controlled burns,” Dennis says. “We collaborated on burns in South Dakota by helping that group develop burn plans and assisting with the burns. Our motivation was to teach their group how to safely conduct controlled burns, so they could teach others in the state.”

In 2017, the South Dakota group formed its own Mid-Missouri River Prescribed Burn Association —the first in the state — with Steffen and several neighbors as driving forces in the effort.

“Cedar trees were just beginning to become a problem,” Steffen recalls. “I looked at maps that showed the encroachment problems, especially big bunches along the Missouri River.”  The aerial maps showed about one-third of Gregory County with cedar tree problems. “Thanks to funds from the South Dakota Grasslands Coalition, we sent out a questionnaire, asking landowners about cedars on their land, and if they would consider prescribed fire as a control.”

Jerald DennisA prescribed burnLIGHTING IT UP:  Two years before the actual burn near Fort Randall Dam in South Dakota, Jerald Dennis sheared several large cedar trees and pushed them up against mature live trees. In 2012, when they started their prescribed burn in that area, the sheared trees ignited easily and burned into the live trees.

Steffen says that working with the Nebraska group helped their association in South Dakota organize and conduct burns of its own.

“We’ve had burns in the hundreds of acres so far, mostly in Gregory County, but also in Charles Mix County. That included a couple of big ranches,” Steffen says. “In many cases, nonresident landowners contact us about conducting a burn on their property. In most cases, we like it when landowners participate in the burn themselves, but with some nonresidents, we accept a payment for doing the burns.”

The Mid-Missouri River group now covers four counties, including Gregory, Charles Mix, Brule and Lyman.

“From the prescribed burns, we have witnessed tremendous recovery of warm-season native grasses on those grasslands where there was grazing management to go along with it,” Steffen says. “There has been fantastic recovery to a typical native plant community in the rough hills and breaks of the Missouri River.”

Cedar treesDEAD TIMBER:  At specific heights, cedar trees do not stand a chance against a well-run prescribed burn. Most of the trees pictured here are completed destroyed. Grass recovery in an area like this is surprisingly rapid.

Steffen says that landowners are amazed with the amount of new grass growth there has been within a year’s time. “Keep in mind, we’ve had plenty of rain in recent years to grow grass, so we have been above normal in soil moisture,” he adds.

For the group based in Bristow, fire has been a worthwhile tool in their war against ERC for more than a decade. “We add new, younger members to our group every year,” Dennis says. “Most of them are members of the fire department, so they are comfortable with conducting a burn. We all work together, and it is great knowing that the other guys have got your back.”

Learn more about Nebraska prescribed fire associations at the state’s Pheasants Forever and Quail Forever website, nebraskapf.com. Learn about the Mid-Missouri River Prescribed Burn Association of South Dakota online at midmissouririverpba.com.RELATEDYoung farmers get involved in ag groupsNovember 17, 2020Landowners band together to confront eastern red cedarJune 22, 2020

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