Back
August 22, 2013

Cotton Boll Worm Causes Damage to Cotton in Mato Grosso

Brazilian scientists are scrambling to come to grips with a new insect pest in Brazil that has the potential to cause tremendous harm to the soybean, corn, and cotton crops in the country. The leaf eating worm of the Helicoverpa species, more commonly known as the corn ear worm or cotton boll worm, was first identified in northeastern Brazil late last year and it caused severe damage to the cotton and soybean crops in the state of Bahia. Once the new pest was positively identified in Bahia, scientists looked for it in other states of central Brazil and found that it was present in most major crop producing regions of central Brazil.

The latest impact of the new pest has been on the safrinha cotton crop in Mato Grosso that is now being harvested. In the most severely impacted fields, cotton production was reduced by as much as 75%. Since this insect is new to the region, many cotton producers in Mato Grosso did not even realize that the worm was present in their cotton fields. Once they were aware of the damage being caused, some producers applied multiple applications of insecticides with only modest results.

The worm is believed to have infested the majority of cotton fields in the central part of the state and it looks like it is going to be a chronic problem in the state. Since the worm infested soybean fields in Bahia last growing season, soybean farmers in Mato Grosso are now very concerned the pest could cause damage to the soybeans they will plant starting in mid-September.

Scientists and government officials are also trying to get emergency registrations of insecticides registered for control of the worm. The eventual cost of controlling the new pest could be very high, but producers have no other choice but to use every method possible to keep the pest in check.