St. John’s Antigua- The fight against the cabbage moth, currently wreaking havoc on the cultivation of cabbage in Antigua & Barbuda, has called in reinforcements from Puerto Rico.
The moth (Mamestra brassicae) is a common European moth of the family Noctuidae. This species vary considerably in size, with a wingspan of 34–50 mm. The forewings are brown and mottled with a prominent white-edged stigma and a broken white sub terminal line.
On cabbage, the caterpillars of the cabbage moth skeletonise the outer leaves and bore into the developing head, filling it with frass and excrement. It also damages the cabbage in the cupping stage, resulting in either aborted or multiple heads.
Agro Servicios of Puerto Rico will be teaming up with local livestock and farm supply company Breekat Enterprises and government to conduct a trial on cabbage, using products which could possibly eliminate the pest.
Keith Thompson, a partner in Breekat, said the company has received the products to be used and they are now awaiting official word from the government to proceed.
“We’ve gotten the drugs in and now it’s just for the ministry to sit down with us and select the farmers; put the cabbage under cultivation and keep the records so we can report and the give the results. Providing this is successful, it will then pave the way for people to use those products regularly to get good results,” Thompson said during an interview with OBSERVER Media.
Thompson said the product to be used in the trial, which is expected to begin in a matter of months, is partially organic and would be safe to use on crops.
Once the trials have begun, he said it would be close to year-end before results can be seen.
Extension Officer in the Ministry of Agriculture Owalabi Elabanjo said the moth is widespread in the agriculture sector. He opined that if farmers are not careful in the proper management of farms, they stand to lose a lot as a result of this nuisance.
“Antigua is one of the main cabbage producers within the OECS and we want to maintain that order of production. That is why we are looking for products both biological and botanical to produce our cabbages in Antigua for consumption, because we are looking more into our food security, food security for better nutrition,” Elabanjo said.