Suspect fall armyworm detected in Riverina

Farmers have been urged to be on the lookout for signs of damage and the presence of fall armyworm in summer crops following the suspected first detection of larvae in the Riverina.

“This is a strong suspect case, but lab results are expected back to 100 per cent confirm by mid next week,” said Riverina Local Land Services (LLS) Senior Land Services Officer - Mixed Farming Systems Geoff Minchin.

“Until then we will be treating it as if it’s a positive case.”

"We are working closely with agronomists across southern NSW to continue the monitoring." 
The suspect larvae were found in a maize crop by a local agronomist, who reported the finding immediately to NSW Department of Primary Industries (DPI), who are working to confirm the initial diagnosis.

“This is the first detection of fall armyworm in the Riverina and serves as a reminder to grain growers throughout the region that they need to be on the lookout for signs of fall armyworm,” Mr Minchin said.

“These signs include windowing of leaves where larvae have hatched and small shot holes as leaves expand, caused by larvae feeding in the developing leaf whorl.

“Fall armyworm larvae are known to feed on more than 350 plant species, particularly maize, cotton, rice, sorghum, sugarcane and wheat, as well as vegetable and fruit crops.

“At this stage, the best way to reduce the spread and impact of this pest is to identify the signs and symptoms as early as possible.”

Fall armyworm moths have been trapped at various locations across central and northern NSW, including Dubbo, the Liverpool Plains, east of Narrabri and west of Wee Waa following the first known detection in NSW, near Moree in mid-October.

Anyone who suspects the presence of fall armyworm should immediately call the Exotic Plant Pest Hotline on 1800 084 881. 

In most cases, DPI will be able to identify larvae from clear photographs which can be sent via an online form or to biosecurity@dpi.nsw.gov.au with your contact details.

For small larvae, DPI and LLS recommend retaining samples with food, such as host crop leaves, and allow them to grow to enable photographs to be taken.

More information on identification, treatment options and resistance management is available on DPI and LLS websites. Farmers should contact their LLS staff or regular agronomist for advice on fall armyworm management.

Media: Simone Norrie – 0419 648 813 – simone.norrie@lls.nsw.gov.au

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