GRDC will host a fall armyworm webinar this Thursday. Picture: James Castner
GRDC will host a fall armyworm webinar this Thursday. Picture: James Castner

Exotic pest: The foreign invader impacting CQ crops

AN EXOTIC pest that feeds on hundreds of plant species will feature in a specialised Grains Research and Development Corporation webinar this week.

Grain growers battling to understand the potential impact of fall armyworm (also known as Spodoptera frugiperda) and how to manage this foreign invader can tune into the webinar on Thursday.

Fall armyworm is an invasive moth native to America, but since 2016, the moth has spread through 65 countries across Africa and Asia, however, none were able to effectively eradicate the pest.

It was first detected in Australia on two Torres Strait Islands in January and was found in Bowen and Bundaberg in April.

It is now considered established in parts of Queensland, the Northern Territory and Western Australia. Last month fall armyworm was also detected as far south as Dubbo in central western New South Wales.

Although grasses including maize and sorghum are favoured by fall armyworm, the pest is known to feed on many hosts and has reportedly caused economic damage overseas to rice, pearl millet, cotton, turf and fodder crops.

GRDC grower relations manager north, Richard Holzknecht, said the information being delivered in the fall armyworm webinar would also be of interest to growers, agronomists and farm advisers across Australia.

Mr Holzknecht said the webinar would feature North Queensland agronomist Brent Wilson sharing his experiences with fall armyworm at a farm level.

He said Queensland Department of Agriculture and Fisheries senior entomologist Melina Miles would also present information on the threat fall armyworm poses to the grains industry and the tools available for management.

“The GRDC appreciates and understands the concerns industry has about fall armyworm and how it is going to impact at a farm level,” he said.

“In partnership with cesar and CSIRO, the GRDC is currently investing in research to investigate fall armyworm’s biology, spread and establishment potential, as well as options to manage the pest now and into the future.”

He said the GRDC was also involved in developing a fall armyworm continuity plan for the Australian grain industry.

This plan will include assessments such as pest biology, seasonality, dispersal capacity (including potential non-crop plant host range), potential plant industry impacts, management options, diagnostics and surveillance protocols.

The fall armyworm webinar is part of a broader series of free GRDC Grains Research Updates developed for Central Queensland growers, agronomists and researchers.

To register for the free-of-charge webinar at 9am on Thursday, go to grdc.com.au/events/list/submitted/2020/grdc-grains-research-update,-online-fall-armyworm.

Other webinar topics being offered as part of the 2020 Central Queensland GRDC Update series include:

  • Tuesday, November 10: Estimating soil plant available water capacity
  • Tuesday, November 17: Strategies to help crops deal with heat in CQ
  • Thursday, November 19: Changing nutrition strategies for profit in CQ

For more information, go to the GRDC events page.


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