‘Get out there and do some scouting’: Growers told to watch out for fall armyworm

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No fall armyworm has been discovered across the country this spring, but growers are being told to keep an eye out.

First discovered in New Zealand in March last year, the pest can chew through more than 350 plant species – which means it could be detrimental to arable and horticulture crops.

Foundation of Arable Research (FAR) biosecurity officer Ash Mills was out searching for the pest in Northland corn crops when we caught up with him.

“We’ve not found anything that has over-wintered from last years populations, so at the moment we’re at zero.”

He said it was not time to get complacent because with new crops in the ground and increasing temperatures, the chances of finding fall armyworm was increasing daily.

“My advice would be keep walking crops, get out there and do some scouting, and you can also go onto the FAR website there are some great resources which will help you identify some of the damage you see from fall armyworm.”

There was a network of traps around the country, with more in Northland because the warmer climate there was kinder to the pest, he said.

“Even if there was the potential that it did die out through the winter, with El Niño we do have some good weather patterns that could bring a new incursion in from Australia, winds that could potentially pick up some moths in Aussie and drop them off here again, which is a great reason why growers should keep a close eye on their crops.”

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