Fall armyworm is still breeding in late planted maize crops and is likely to extend to the wheat crop during winter.

The pest still is actively attacking young maize crops planted in wetlands.
The Deputy Director for Research Services, Dr Godfrey Chikwenhere told the ZBC News that the pest does not only affect maize crops and it does not go into hibernation, thus necessitating farmers to be on the alert.

“The battle is not yet over as the fall armyworm does not go into hibernation. We have observed in some areas that it is attacking maize below knee high level and those crops that are under irrigation. We suspect that tomatoes and the winter wheat may be affected,” he said.

Dr Chikwenhere urged farmers to continue monitoring their crops and consult their Agritex extension officers as well as avoid application of pesticides that leave toxic residues and cause harm when crops are consumed.

For maize, cabaral 85 wettable powder was recommended as effective in eradicating the pest in crops that are about 4 weeks old.

Meanwhile, experts say the outbreak of fall armyworm can be contained if seed houses and governments in the region and beyond embark on massive scientific research to come up with the right chemicals and hybrids which are resistant to the deadly pest.

“The outbreak of this new pest called fall armyworm calls for an integrated approach from the SADC region and beyond to find a lasting solution to the devastating caterpillar,” said Dr Cosmos Magorokocho, a country representative from an international research organisation in production of maize and wheat hybrids.

Agronomist, Mr Irvine Craig said it is important to find the right chemical on the fall armyworm but breeding of nutritional and drought resident crop is essential in the face of climate change.