Due to drought: DA warns anew on pest infestation
Kristine B. Quintas/ATO (The Freeman) - February 21, 2016 - 9:00am

CEBU, Philippines - The Department of Agriculture-7 warns the public of possible pest infestation on crops with the onset of the dry season and the expected drought.

Bienvenido Acabal Jr., the Agricultural Center chief of DA-7’s Regional Crop Protection Center, earlier said farmers should be vigilant over pest outbreaks (army worm or cut worm) to prevent serious loss in crop production, especially in corn and rice.

Armyworms attack mostly corn crops during early stages, such as during the seedling, whorl and tasseling phase.

In Cebu, armyworm infestations are prevalent in the towns of Oslob, Ginatilan, Bantayan, Sta. Fe, Medellin, Bogo, and Daanbantayan.

These areas are currently being monitored by DA, but the agency is encouraging farmers to immediately report to their municipal/city agriculture office any occurrence of pest infestation in their farms.

Last year, nearly 60 hectares of croplands in Central Visayas was infested by armyworms.

If infestation is untreated, Acabal said it could further affect the income of the farmers or worse, threaten food security here.

He said there are two “effective” measures to free crops from pests: by spraying liquid insecticide (Selecron) to lessen worm’s population; and by manual picking and burning of worms.

The farmers are also advised to destroy or remove alternate hosts around infested fields; to avoid over fertilization of the crop to minimize its susceptibility to insect pests and disease infestation or infection; and to continuously monitor economically important crops and grassland for early detection of armyworm infection.

DA is distributing free insecticides to farmers in all provinces.

Drought has long been recognized as an important factor in causing pest outbreaks.

Local weather bureau PAG-ASA earlier said drought is expected to hit most parts of the country by May.

The agency defines drought as three consecutive months of way below normal rainfall condition or more than 60 percent reduction from average rainfall.

PAG-ASA Mactan chief meteorologist Al Quiblat said the country is now experiencing warmer Easterly winds from the Pacific Ocean. — (FREEMAN)

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