Several countries across multiple agro-climatic zones ranging from Africa, the Middle East to Asia are reeling under unprecedented locust attacks. A warning — ‘Desert Locust Watch’ — put out by the UN’s Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) on 2 March has described the situation as extremely alarming, especially in Kenya, Ethiopia and Somalia.
Outbreaks of insect pests and insect invasions are on the rise on the African continent. Currently, several African countries – including Kenya, Ethiopia, and Somalia – are dealing with one of the most devastating outbreaks of desert locusts. This comes after recent fall armyworm invasions which affected more than 44 African countries.
Late winter is a very important time for orchardists because now is when you should apply dormant oil spray to your fruit trees. Dormant oil (also called all-seasons spray oil) smothers insect eggs on fruit trees before they hatch. You can apply it any time before buds start to open in spring; now is the ideal time.
After wreaking havoc on crops in parts of Sindh and Cholistan in Punjab, swarms of locusts have now invaded large swathes of suburban areas of Pakpattan district. Locusts have attacked standing crops, including wheat and vegetables, on thousands of acres in Kalyana, Hota and adjoining areas of the district, inflicting huge losses on farmers.
India has been able to bring swarms of desert locusts under control in two key oilseed producing states and authorities are now trying to assess crop damage. A number of timely measures and a change in wind direction have prevented a spread and large-scale damage to the rapeseed and cumin seed crops, the officials said. The outbreak began late last year in Gujarat and Rajasthan states.
Climate models might underestimate crop losses because they don’t factor how infested plants react to rising temperatures, according to a new study. Recent models tell us that, as our climate warms up, herbivores and pests will cause increased damage to agricultural crops. One study predicted that crop yield lost to insects increases 10 to 25% for every 1 degree Celsius (1.8 degrees Fahrenheit) increase.
Topping or grazing oilseed rape with sheep over winter can reduce flea beetle larvae numbers by up to 44%, according to new research. The trial by Innovative Farmers saw eight growers defoliate their crops last season in an effort to control flea beetle larvae, as pesticides offer very limited control.
As farmers on the western border of Rajasthan face the worst attack of locusts coming from neighbouring Pakistan, there is now danger of the swarms of insects laying eggs which can lead to even more damage to crops. Officials said that one locust lays around 100 eggs and hence it will be very tough to control the menace.
In the biggest locust attack ever, crops over at least 1,50,000 hectare land have been damaged across four districts in Rajasthan, a special crop assessment report has found. The locust outbreak was reported in May 2019 after 26 years, and grasshoppers returned in December-January period to cause extensive damage, the officials of the Locust Warning Organisation (LWO) said.
At least three talukas in Banaskantha have been the worst hit. Farmers claim their production of crops like wheat, castor, cumin and mustard will be affected badly as most of them have been destroyed. With locust swarms damaging huge number of crops in at least three talukas of Banaskantha district in Gujarat, the production of crops like wheat, castor, cumin and mustard along with other major crops will be highly affected, farmers in these areas have said.
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