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AFAN raises alarm over corn earworm attack on maize plants

The All Farmers Association of Nigeria (AFAN) in Niger State has raised alarm over the destruction of maize planted by farmers across the state by corn earworms pest.

Alhaji Shehu Galadima, Chairman, AFAN in the state disclosed this on Thursday during an interview  in Minna.

Galadima said that the challenge faced by the maize farmers in the state may result in low production of the commodity this year.

“We are having serious challenge whereby the corn earworms are destroying our maize plants, forcing us to plant corn up to four times this year,’’ he said.

The chairman said that the corn earworms also known as army worms resisted some agro-chemicals, making the farmers to mix different agro-chemicals to control the pest.

“When we apply the chemicals the worms sometimes die and sometimes they resist it.

“Even when we apply the agro-chemicals to control the pests we are not 100 per cent sure of the efficacy,’’ Galadima said.

He expressed concern that the attack by the corn earworms might reduce the production of maize this year if serious measures were not taken to tackle the menace.

“We can have two harvests of maize per wet season when we start planting from March to May.

“This time around, the army worms have done a huge damage to the maize plant due to inadequate rainfall resulting from climate change,’’ Galadima said.

He said that with adequate rainfall, the worms would not survive to attack the maize.

Galadima noted that the replanting of maize by the farmers was a serious setback as they would spend more money to purchase inputs which they had not been doing.

He said that the farmers spent more time and money to ensure that their maize plants grew to maturity in order to produce.

It was reported that the corn earworm is a common insect or pest in corn.

It has first and second generation caterpillars which attack the whorl stage while the latter generations are largely found in corn ears.

Corn earworm larvae generally infest the ear through the silk and in years with heavy insect pressure, there can be multiple penetration sites.

In this case, more than one larva may be found in an ear.

However, since this caterpillar regulates its abundance through cannibalism, it is unusual for more than one earworm larvae to be found in a whorl or ear.

The injury resulting from whorl feeding by corn earworm larvae infestations can be damaging through stunting plants, removing leaf tissue needed for photosynthesis and sometimes destroying the inner whorl.

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