Advisory ArticleAgroStar Agronomy Centre of Excellence
Management of Woolly aphid in Sugarcane
Sugarcane is an important commercial crop grown in parts of India. The production of the crop is affected by an insect pest known as Woolly Aphid, primarily in Maharashtra and Karnataka.. It is found in developed colonies on the leaves, and sometimes on Sugarcane Setts. These colonies look like white powdery mass and hence, are given the name Woolly Aphids. The male nymphs of the pest are pale-greenish white and female nymphs are pale yellowish white in colour.
The adult female is apterous (wing-less). It has a soft and broad body with lateral depression. The body is covered by white, cotton-like secretions. Male Woolly Aphids have wings.
Stages and symptoms of Woolly Aphid infestation
Both the nymphs and the adults suck the cell sap from the lower surface of sugar leaves. They excrete large amounts of honeydew, which falls on the upper surface of the leaves and gives them a sticky coating. Due to this, black sooty mould develops on the leaves. The coating of the soot is thick and hampers photosynthesis, resulting in considerably less cane yield (25%) and sucrose content (26.71%). During the early growth period plants may die.
The spread of this pest is caused by wind, ants, and through infested leaves.
Cloudy weather, with 70 to 95% relative humidity, is favourable for the growth of woolly aphid. In the month of June, severe infestation is likely to be observed and the incidence of the pest infestation is at its highest, till September.
Management practices of Woolly aphids:
• Sugarcane seeds in the affected areas should not be used for new cane cultivation.
•To manage Woolly Aphids, sugarcane can be planted using ridge and furrow method, trench method, and single bud sowing
• If the infestation is more infested parts of the cane should be burnt.
• Avoid excessive irrigation for sugarcane crop. It should be done on a need basis.
• Balanced chemical fertilizers should be used as per recommendations. Avoid more than required nitrogenous fertilizers in the field. Application of Farm yard manure and vermicompost should be done at 20 tonnes per hectare.
•To effectively manage Woolly Aphid growth in sugarcane, conserve biological control agents such as LadyBird Beetle, Green lacewing and release biological control agent like Diapha aphidovora @50000/Acre.
• Avoid spraying chemical pesticides in the area where the predator is present.
• At the early stages of crop, spraying Chlorpyriphos 50% + Cypermethrin 5% EC @ 2 ml per litre is recommended. If drip irrigation system is available in the field then spray Chlorpyriphos 50% + Cypermethrin 5% EC @ 500 ml per acre.(This in case of more infestation).
• For six months old cane crop, Thimate 10% @ 3-5 kg/Acre should be applied through soil application.
• Avoid ratooning of sugarcane and don’t burn the trash of infected crop. After harvesting the crop, don’t allow shoots growth on the stems.
Reference - Agrostar Agronomy Center Excellence
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