Cotton is one of the most popular and highly profitable non-food crops in the world. In India too, cotton is one of the most important cash crops. This important fibre crop provides livelihood to millions of people and plays a crucial role in the economy of the country.
However, the problem with this crop type is that it attracts various kinds of pests and weeds. As a result, crop protection becomes an essential component of cotton farming. Bollworms are the most common pests in cotton farming – the cotton pink bollworm being the most common variety. Though native to Asia, the pink bollworm has reached almost all cotton-growing regions of the world. The larva looks like a dull-white caterpillar with prominent pink banding along the dorsum. The pest grows to be a thin and small grey moth with fringed wings. There are innumerable cases of spotted bollworm in cotton infestations globally and Indian farmers face challenges because of this pest too.
It is imperative to take quick steps for controlling the infestation and hence in this article we will discuss how to effectively control cotton pink bollworm.
How to Control Cotton Pink Bollworm
Cotton pink bollworm is a notorious pest, which bores deep into the cotton balls and eats up the cotton seeds and blossoms. As a result, a substantial volume of the crop gets destroyed. The infestation mainly takes place during the medium and the later stages and detecting infestation of this pest is extremely difficult as the worm penetrates the boll and is invisible from the outside.
Agricultural research has shown that it is possible to manage and control the American bollworm control successfully. However, it is important to follow certain recommendations and guidelines to efficiently control this pest from creating havoc for Indian cotton farmers.
Cotton American bollworm control – a guide for farmers
Mentioned below are some effective steps cotton farmers should take to effectively enforce American bollworm control:
• Whatever the conditions, complete the cotton crop harvesting.
• Pay special attention to the cotton season.
• Clear the stubble of the previous crop, particularly the infected bolls which remain spread on the field.
• Never gather tainted and infested cotton bolls in the warehouse.
• If there are seeds of both Bt cotton and non-Bt cotton, sow the non-Bt seeds in the field as a refuge crop. This is an excellent way of combating pink bollworms.
• Get seeds of straight varieties of cotton, like that of popular Boll guard 2 and sow them.
• Refrain from using F2 seeds.
• For preventing the activities of pink bollworm flies, try attaching pheromone traps. Install 5 traps per hectare. Do this after 45 days of sowing the cotton seeds.
• Once 60 days of sowing are complete, spray a mixture comprising of neem oil and neem seed extract at 5%.
• Make sure to practice crop rotation so that you are successful in breaking the life cycle of the pink bollworm.
• Do not mix lots of insecticides. It is best to use insecticides which are recognised and recommended by the Indian Ministry of Agriculture and Farmers’ Welfare.
Spotted Bollworm in cotton management
The spotted bollworm in cotton is a tiny creature with white hind wings. Across the whole length of the forewing, you will see a broad green stripe. These pests lay their eggs on the plant shoot, flower buds, small leaves, or plant top. On hatching, the caterpillars get into the shoot and extract food from there. Sometimes, the flower buds and even the green bolls are affected by these pests.
Mentioned below are some tried and tested ways of controlling and managing spotted bollworm:
• Make sure to sanitise the field after every harvest.
• Start the practice of early sowing and early harvesting.
• At the reproductive stage, refrain from using nitrogen fertilisers.
• Try to collect and destroy infested bolls.
• Try using resistant cotton variants.
• Between 35 to 70 days, release egg parasitoid.
• Practice using systemic insecticides and pesticides.
Five ways to effectively kill Cotton Bollworms
Cotton bollworms are not only detrimental to cotton crops but also to a wide variety of vegetables. Whether you are looking to eliminate cotton pink bollworm or seeking American bollworm control, the first thing you have to do is to understand the life of these pests. Next, you need to gather little knowledge on the damage traits of these notorious tiny creatures.
Take a look at the 5 effective ways of killing cotton bollworms:
1. Biological control – Mussel, ladybug, and Trichogramma are considered natural enemies of cotton bollworms. These are effective in killing bollworms by biological control. Flower planting and intercropping are also helpful in combating cotton bollworms.
2. Physical control – Cotton bollworms can be trapped by light and food. The best thing about this control is that it kills the pests without impacting the environment adversely.
3. Being alert at the critical time – If you want to control cotton bollworm, you have to be alert at the hatching stage of the eggs or when the young larvae are at the peak development stage. Using insecticides and pesticides is highly recommended during this time.
4. Agricultural control - Use agricultural measures to kill and combat cotton bollworms like sowing and harvesting at the right time, using fertilisers properly, deep turning, winter irrigation, and so on.
5. Sow resistant cotton varieties – You must sow resistant cotton varieties so that right from the beginning, there are no chances of cotton bollworm infestations.
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