Farming, Photography

Helicoverpa Caterpillar Update

These pictures were taken yesterday morning and I think summarizes the scenario across all Mato Grosso.

Helicoverpa is here, everywhere, but easily under control. We have been more vigilant than usual, true, and spraying wherever is needed(some fields are on its 5th), but even the fields from some more reckless farmers are looking fine. This is quite unexpected and my guess is that it’s probably related to the high moisture conditions present in Mato Grosso, conditions that didn’t happen in Bahia last year, when this plague took control over there. Still, we should be aware that a dry spell(+15days) on january, in Mato Grosso, isn’t a rare event and would certainly make things harder, even though most of the potential loss is gone given soybeans late growth stage. Something odd, is that the Soybeans Looper(Pseudoplusia includens), a regular caterpillar, is the one causing problems this season.

Anyway, soybeans are looking great, much more than last year.


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Farming, Politics, Soybeans

Helicoverpa Caterpillar – An Ongoing Fight

Three months ago, just before planting, we were scared on how the now famous Helicoverpa caterpillar would behave in our crops…

This motherf****r goes right in the pods

…scared because we knew that the pesticides currently allowed in Brazil do not control helicoverpa effectively. According to research and previous farm experiences in Bahia, they are only efficient until helicoverpa reaches about 0,5 inch. After that, they look more like vitamins to the caterpillars. Half an inch is a risky threshold and there wasn’t a safeguard, a last minute weapon, so we urged to the approval of emamectin benzoatean effective inseticide available in more than 77 countries, including Australia, Argentina, USA, and Europe, but still under the stuck-in-the-mud brazilian government studies, who apparently judges itself much better than its international counterparts.

Meanwhile, and knowing that this approval could take months to come(or never come), Mato Grosso’s institutions and companies acted quickly to intruct farmers on how to monitore, recognize, and control this plague.  Constant monitoring has been the order since then and fortunately it has worked. We are now in the middle of 2013/14 soybeans season in Brazil. Early fields will start to be harvested next week and by now everything is under control in most places. Costs are higher but yields are not being affected.

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