Top Three Sugarcane Pests of Economic Importance

Ines Hajdu

Agronomy Expert

For centuries, farmers have cultivated sugarcane to produce sugar. This remarkable crop is of big importance as a cash crop for families and smallholders in developing countries. Sugarcane is mostly cultivated warm climates, therefore top producers are Brazil, India, China, Thailand, and Pakistan. The main purpose of its cultivation today is also sugar production. However, the use of sugarcane is expanding into the products such as ethanol and biofuel, biomass used for electricity, and bioplastics.

While the average yield of sugarcane worldwide is close to 60 t/ha, some countries manage to produce more than 100 t/ha. However, pests represent one of the biggest threats for farmers who are growing this powerful cash crop. Scientists estimate that insect pests cause almost 20 to 40% of farmer's yield losses. Borers are one of the most significant insect pests that attack sugarcane, thus endangering farmer's productivity.

Root Borer (Emmalocera depressella)

Root borer is a major sugarcane pest which occures in some parts of India and Pakistan. It infests sugarcane at all development stages. Infested crops suffer dead hearts and a general yellowing of the leaves. Infestation also results in poor tillering in mature crops.


Early Shoot Borer (Chilo infescatellus)

The damage from early shoot borer causes yield losses up to 35%. The pest attacks the crop during the early growth stages, before the internode formation. The damage occurs as the dead hearts; the base of the dead heart gets rotten and emits the offensive smell. After the pest manages to kill one shoot, it migrates to another. The crop is also vulnerable to the pest attack in the years of scant rainfall when the temperature remains usually high with low relative humidity.


Top Shoot Borer (Scirpophaga excerptalis)

Top shoot borer causes damage such as dead heart, shot holes in emerging leaves, bore holes at the top of the shoot and bunchy top appearance. Farmer's yield loss due to top shoot borer can be 20 to 30%.


Farm Management Practices for Borers Prevention

There are few precautionary farm practices that can help farmers to manage sugarcane borers successfully: biological and chemical.

Biological pest management measures include following practices:

  • Biological tapes for tracking of moth distribution
  • A fungus beauveria bassiana which parasites the insect pest
  • A parasitoid trichogramma chilonis which destroys borers eggs
  • Neem oil, as a biological insecticide
  • Ryania, herbal insecticide
  • Azadirachtin, a growth regulator which reduces the fertility of female insects.

Chemical measures include the use of insecticides based on active substance carbofuran, chlorantraniliprole, flubendiamide, emamectin benzoate, deltamethrin. Cultural control practices refer to manual removing of moths from the crops.

Agrivi Helps Farmers with Sugarcane Pest Management

To ensure complete and proper sugarcane pest management, a farmer can rely on Agrivi farm management software. Agrivi facilitates farmer's pest management by providing a powerful knowledge base with the list of pests and diseases for a certain crop, as well as the list of active substances (chemical and organic) for a particular pest and disease.

In the case of Early shoot borer, which attacks sugarcane in the pre-monsoon period, a farmer can set up the custom alarm. The smart alarm will warn him if there is a possibility for a monsoon. After that, a farmer can track the moth distribution and apply pest protection practices if they are necessary.

With Agrivi, farmers can track all their activities related to sugarcane pest protection in the form of tasks. The software enables them to track usage of pesticides and other materials, as well as work hours of workers and machinery during some activity. Furthermore, Agrivi powerful analytics provide a clear insight into the pesticide consumption per field or a crop at any time.

Use Agrivi to reduce yield losses caused by borers. Sign up now!


Text sources: Sugarcane Crops || Agropedia

Image sources: Sugar Crops Research Institute || The Hindu Business Line

Agropedia || TNAU Agritech Portal

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