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Stem borer in maize

Buseola fusca, Chilo partellus, Sesamia calamistis
  • Remove infested stems and stubbles from the previous harvest and destroy by composting or shred for mulch and use in plantain farm away from maize.
  • Rotate maize with cassava, root crops or legumes and come back to plant maize after 2 years.
  • Remove leftover maize, sorghum, millet and/or alternate hosts (elephant grass, guinea grass) to reduce carry over of larvae from one growing season to next.
  • Modify sowing periods by planting early in the major and minor rain seasons to avoid periods of heavy infestation.
  • Intercrop with legumes such as cowpea, or cassava to reduce the incidence of stem borer infestation on maize.
  • Monitor 3 weeks after planting.
  • Larvae are creamy-white to yellowish-brown, with dark-brown spots on the back. They can grow up to 25 mm long.
  • The larvae are found in the leaf funnels, causing scars and holes by feeding.
  • They later feed at the growing point, which may be killed (death of the growing point of the plant = dead heart); especially seen in young plants.
  • Look for older larvae burrowing into stems and into cobs, weakening the stems, which may break and lodge. Then, direct control is too late.
  • Early control can be considered when 5-10% of young plants are damaged, meaning having feeding holes in leaves.
  • When young larvae have not yet entered stalks consider spraying hot pepper solution (50g/L) onto young plants every 10 days until tasseling.
  • Pour ash dust (half matches box) into leaf-funnel of knee-high young plant.
  • Spray Neem extract 50-60ml per 15 litres of water onto young plants every 10-14 days until flowering if threshold is reached.
  • Apply products onto young plants particularly onto or into leaf sheath funnels when larvae are still on leaves. When larvae are inside stems or cobs, spraying has no effect
  • When using a pesticide or botanical, always wear protective clothing and follow the instructions on the product label, such as dosage, timing of application, pre-harvest interval, maximum number of sprays, restricted re-entry interval. Do not empty into drains and water sources.
  • Always consult the most recent list of registered pesticides of EPA, Ghana.
  • Apply Deltamethrin-based products (check product label for dosage). It is a Pyrethroid with a contact and stomach poison (2-3 weeks persistence in field). IRAC mode of action 3A
  • WHO toxicity class II (Moderately hazardous); restricted re-entry interval r.e.i. ½ day; pre-harvest interval p.h.i. 3 days. High risk to predators, pollinators; to fish and other aquatic organisms. Do not contaminate surface waters or ditches; do not apply to plants suffering from drought or other physical distress; do not spray within 6m of field boundary.
  • Chlopyriphos ethyl-based products (e.g. Dursban 4E, Pyrinex 48EC, Conpyrifos). Usually at a rate of 60-70mls per 15L knapsack sprayer, but check labels as product differs. A contact and ingested organophosphorus insecticide; IRAC mode of action 1B
  • WHO class II (Moderately hazardous). Repeat application twice if the pests persist and reaches threshold. Apply early morning or late afternoon, maximum two times per planting season. p.h.i. 35 days; r.e.i. 3 days.
AUTHOR(S): Michael Kumah (Ministry Of Food & Agriculture-PPRSD, Ghana), phone no.,+233 (0) 207505618/+233(0)247845848 email: Benjamin K. Badii (University for Development Studies), Antony Cudjoe (Private Consultant) and Maxwell Awuku (Chemico Ghana Ltd.)

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