Beet armyworms plaguing Southfield

January 09, 2018
A farmer shows beet armyworms damaging his scallion.
Tomatoes from a Southfield farm.

One of the biggest recurring problems in recent times facing residents of Southfield, St Elizabeth is the resurgence of the beet army worm infestation, which has been wreaking havoc on farmers' crops.

Several farmers with whom The Western Star spoke told of the efforts they have been making to deal with the outbreak of the worms within the past month.

"The worms come back and them terrible, like them come with chainsaw," said Peter Barnes, a tomato farmer. "It was bad three weeks ago, but they subsided, and then a week now them come more terrible. For me, the Tracer insecticide works good, and I heard of a different chemical to use, but I haven't tried it yet."

Sandra Williams, an onion farmer, gave a different view of the insecticides she has used to fight the worms, which have been a headache for scallion and onion farmers in St Elizabeth and southern Manchester since last October.

"I used the Tracer insecticide, and I used every other spray, and they don't work. I sprayed yesterday and doubled the spraying, and how much money I spent," Williams complained. "It was said that there is a spray coming from foreign which is expensive but good, but it's not legal. Why don't they make it legal?"

Melissa Lewis-Gayle, who operates a farming-goods store in Southfield, believes part of the problem is the farmers' lack of understanding about how to use their insecticides.

"The beet army worm has been out of control from last year, and the chemicals don't seem to be working," said Lewis-Gayle. "I think the farmers need to be educated, because they think that if they just find one pesticide they should stick to it, but they should always rotate chemicals so the worms don't build up an immunity to the pesticides."

Last October, the Ministry of Agriculture urged farmers to intensify the monitoring of their farms and put measures in place to combat the worms.

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