Outbreak of Tobacco Caterpillar on Wheat in Madhya Pradesh
02 January 2023, New Delhi: Wheat is known as a lazy farmer’s crop as cultivating it does not require much effort except for timely sowing and watering. There are rare pesticide and fungicide sprays that keep the cost of cultivation low. This scenario is changing quickly for Madhya Pradesh farmers as the local wheat crop is seeing tobacco caterpillar infestation for the past two years.
Many villages of Depalpur tehsil in Madhya Pradesh have flagged the outbreak of tobacco caterpillars in the wheat crop. Farmers are spraying insecticides which are usually used for lepidopteran pests as there is no official recommendation of agrochemical from the Central Insecticides Board and Registration Committee (CIB&RC) on this pest for the wheat crop.
The outbreak of tobacco caterpillar in wheat has been seen at the ear formation stage. According to the farmers, tobacco caterpillar was found more in the field having Tejas variety of wheat as compared to Lok-1. As per the Regional Officer of the Agriculture Department, there is not much damage to the wheat crop in the tehsil as of now.
Lokendra Chaudhary, a farmer of Karjoda village, told Krishak Jagat, “I have been seeing this pest for the last 2-3 years. It infested my wheat crop 15-20 days after sowing. There has been very little damage as I sprayed insecticide. To save the crop from tobacco caterpillars, farmers are spraying Lambda Cyhalothrin, Emamectin Benzoate 5% SC along with fungicides and Zinc.”
Dr. Anil Kumar Singh, a scientist at ICAR-Indian Agricultural Research Institute, Indore told Krishak Jagat, “For the last 5-7 years, pest infestation in wheat has started to come up. Since the wheat crop is a hardy crop, pest does not cause much damage but can be lethal if they are in large numbers or above the economic threshold level (ETL).”
Dr. Singh shared, “For those who have sown in October, the stage of ear formation has started and these farmers need to be careful as the pest can cause heavy damage to the crop.”
The institution has suggested spraying Quinalphos 25 EC 800 ml/ha or Emamectin Benzoate 12.5 g AI/ha, Emamectin Benzoate SC at 450 ml/ha and WG at 200 g/ha, Broflanilide 300 SC at 50 g/ha, Chlorantraniliprole at 150 ml/ha, Flubendiamide 20 WG at 250 g/ha and Indoxacarb 350 ml/ha. The institute mentioned that there is no need to spray if the loss is less than 5 – 7%.
Dr. Singh mentioned that nowadays farmers are not giving a gap between Kharif and Rabi crops. Soybean is harvested by the first week of October and Wheat is sown immediately thereafter, the eggs and larvae in the soil develop and move to the next crop. If a gap of 15-20 days is kept between the two crops, the eggs/larvae get destroyed in the sun. Wheat can be sown till the first week of November or till the 20th of November. This will reduce the possibility of an outbreak of caterpillars.
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