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25 VILLAGES

Armyworms ravage onion farms in Pangasinan

/ 05:28 AM February 20, 2018

Onions are classified and sorted in Bayambang town, Pangasinan province, before these are delivered to local markets or stored in warehouses. —WILLIE LOMIBAO

LINGAYEN, Pangasinan — Farmers in four Pangasinan towns are fighting millions of armyworms that have been invading their onion farms in the last three weeks.

A total of 352.1 hectares of onion farms have been infested and worms continue to ravage more farms in at least 25 villages in the towns of Bayambang, Bautista, Alcala and Malasiqui, according to Dalisay Moya, provincial agriculturist.

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But farm gate prices of onions have remained good at P28 to P32 a kilogram, Moya said.

Worst-hit was Bautista, with 132 ha of onion farms in 10 villages; followed by Bayambang, 100 ha in six villages; Alcala, 91 ha in eight villages; and Malasiqui, 29.1 ha in two villages.

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A total of 282 ha have been growing red and white onions in Bautista this cropping season that started in September last year. Bayambang, which is Ilocos region’s top onion producer, has 1,480 ha planted to onions.

Moya said farm technicians had recommended the use of systemic pesticides for crops that were still in their vegetative stages.

A farmer inspects his onion farm in Pangasinan. WILLIE LOMIBAO

Farmers whose crops are affected by bulb rot have been advised to adopt crop rotation, she said, adding that they should not plant onions in the same area to break the cycle of the disease.

The worms breed in grassy patches near the farms and attack as farmers begin to plant their crops, said Nestor Batalla, assistant provincial agriculturist.

According to the Department of Agriculture, armyworms produce more eggs during a long dry spell after a rainfall. A female armyworm can lay 800 to 1,000 eggs that could hatch into a million worms. —Gabriel Cardinoza

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TAGS: Armyworms, Dalisay Moya, Pangasinan onion farms
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