Armyworms may invade SA sugar fields after corn

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Alien armyworms. (iStock)
Alien armyworms. (iStock)

Lusaka - An outbreak of fall armyworms that has attacked corn plants may spread to sugarcane in the KwaZulu-Natal province, where a warm climate would help the pest survive through the year, the Agricultural Research Council said.

The alien pest, confirmed in South Africa this month, has already spread to all nine provinces including eastern KwaZulu-Natal, where the bulk of cane is grown in the nation. There aren’t yet any reports of infestations, Roger Price, a manager at the Pretoria-based ARC, said in an emailed reply to questions on Thursday.

“We are very concerned that fall armyworms will get into the sugarcane along the KwaZulu-Natal coast, where it could persist in the warmer climatic conditions,” he said. “My personal view is that the vast bulk of the commercial maize crop has not been damaged and that national food security is not currently at risk.”

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