Archive for the ‘Pests’ Category

Sugar Cane (Saccharum Officinarum)

Sugar cane is a perennial grass, which under favorable conditions grows to a height of 2.5- 6m depending on the variety. It has a well developing fibrous roots found mainly in the top 25- 30 cm of the soil and which may spread outward to 2m. The stem, sometime known as canes or culms usually grows erect but are procumbent in some varieties.

Sugar cane is un-branched except for the tillers and consists of a series of nodes and internodes. The crop is mainly grown for sugar and this sugar may be extracted from the stems and used for sweetening a wide range of foods and drinks. It may also be used to making sweets, chocolates, spirits and sweetening livestock feeds. The crop requires a minimum annual rain fall of 1,500mm of which at least 70% should fall evenly during the growing period. Artificial irrigation is necessary when this amount of rainfall is not available, if maximum yields are to be realized.

Sugar cane grows on wide range of soils although it prefers heavy fertile and well drained soils. The PH required is not very critical as the crop may grow quite well in soils with PH of 4.2- 8.5. The growing season should be warm with mean day temperature of 28- 30 centigrade while temperature below 20 centigrade retards growth and those above 35 centigrade reduces photosynthetic rate.

Photorespiration increases with temperature can appear wilted irrespective of water supply when temperatures approaches 35 centigrade and growth is curtailed. Low temperatures are the effective means of ripening cane, counteracting adverse factors such as excessive moisture or nitrogen.

Land preparation and planting

Land preparation involves; clearing the bushes, removing stumps, building terraces or ridges to prevent soil erosion, grading slope grounds in preparation for irrigation by gravity, demolishing ant hills, ploughing and making furrows. Three eyed setts are planted in furrows at the depth of 20-30cm and 1.5m between the rows and cover with 2.5 7.5 cm of soil.

The planting material is obtained either from the harvested cane (the white tip) or from seed nurseries. The setts are planted in rows and they are placed end to end with a slight overlap. Double planting of poor tillering varieties can be well worth while with the yield benefits extending with ratoon crops. A seed bed density of 2,500-3,000 setts per ha or 6 to 7 tons of sugar cane per ha. Sugar cane can be planted almost any time of the year though it is best to avoid dry periods (December to February and July to August) to uplands as the plants are then delayed to germination and early growth.


Weeding should be done soon after all the setts have germinated and this should be done 5 to 6 time for a better growth of the plant.

Manure and fertilizers

Plant is effective to sugar cane and it should be applied before the boom period (6 months). Filter mud is a useful by-product of the factory containing phosphorus and nitrogen so it is important to put it back to the field.


Sugar cane responds well to fertilizer application and it has specific demands on phosphorus, nitrogen and potassium.


The crop will mature at 15 to 24 moths depending on the varieties and season


The determination of the maturity of a field of cane is one of the most important aspects in managing the plantation. After the boom period of growth, some of the stems change from the vegetative to reproductive state and produce reproductive inflorescence called arrows or tassels. Appearance of the tassels at times can be deceptive as to the level of sucrose accumulated in the stems.

Where irrigation is practiced ripening is induced by withholding water several weeks prior to harvest. A more precise way of determining maturity is by using a hand refract meter which reads Brix number and for a mature cane the Brix should be 20%. Harvesting is done by hand using knives and specialized machetes and it is important that the field id cut clean as any short left in the stool gain advantage over those subsequently produced from the underground rhizomes, with  results that the following crop becomes very un-even

The number of ratoon that are economical to the harvest from the field before replanting depends on the characteristics of the individual fields, the variety of the cane and the method of cultivation used.


The following pest have been of concern in Uganda

Stem borer (sesamia vuleria.stoll). The attack commences near the apex of the short; the caterpillar boring in the softest tissue and then down the stem mainly in young canes. The infected plants have appearance of dead hearts within withered innermost terminal leaves.


Prevent the pest by weeding in the garden regularly and treating the planting material in warm water. Control the pest by cutting of the dead hearts, and removal of borers successfully controls the outbreak. Allow atachinid fly in the as it is parasite on the caterpillar.

Eldana borer (Eldana saccharine)

Eldana borer causes serious damage in some parts of Africa to maize and sugar cane, the larva feeds on the outside of the stalk around the node after which it enters the stalk feeding the rest of its life inside the stalk.

Prevention is by clearing the papyrus around the garden as it is the alternative host and field hygiene. Control is by cultural methods, using hot water treating the seed cane.

Aphids (Rhopalatosiphum maidis fitch)

This is important because it is a victor of mosaic disease, and the danger caused directly by the insect is negligible. Prevention is by the garden free of weeds and all around the garden. Control by spraying a mixture of garlic and marigold leaves to repel the insects.

White scale

White scale insect stays on the nodes of the cane and sucks the juice reducing the quality of the juice and decreasing yield. The leave tend to dry and growth is suppressed and the plant may die altogether. Prevention is by weeding in the garden regularly and removal of the dry leaves of the cane. Control is by burning of the trash killing the larva and adults.


Termites cause serious damage to the crop during germination and maturity time. The insect cut down the growing plants causing death. Prevention is by destroying the ant hills around and in the field. Control is by applying Neem tree crushed leaves together with dry wood ash on the plant roots.


Mosaic disease

The causal agent for this disease is the sugar cane mosaic virus (SCMV); the main symptoms are small irregular, elongated non-necrotic spots, yellowish green or dark green on a light background which appears on young leaves when in shade and causing plant stunting. It is transmitted by several aphids and through contaminated setts, and it causes a loss of tonnages and the extent of this loss depend on the varieties. Prevention is by avoiding the aphids in garden and keeping the garden free of weeds.

Red stripe disease

This disease appears mainly on young canes in the form of narrow continuous dark red to reddish brown stripes running longitudinally along the leaves from the base upwards, and the causal agent is the bacterium phytomonas rubrilineans. The tissue between the stripes is often pale green to yellow in colour and infected plants are easily sported in the field.

There are many other sugar cane diseases like smut, leaf spot disease, ratoon disease, root disease and top rot.


Planting Garlic as a Pest Control In your Garden

Garlic is one of the strongest pest control methods in gardens. While using it, plant it around areas where pests are a problem Most insects are repelled by the smell.

However, even the beneficial insects may be repelled by the garlic. This means that care must be taken while planting it so as not to loose the beneficial insects.

To control moles, Use one whole or crushed garlic and place directly into their tunnels. The odor of garlic is very strong to their sensitive nose, and this will encourage them abandon the area. Garlic plants also work as a great deterrent So planting garlic as a companion plant is helpful to eliminate a mole or rats.

Using garlic water for plants can also work as a tonic that seeps into the soil and disrupts the harmful insects that usuallyhide  there. moles  will avoid digging in the dirt that has been treated with garlic water.

How to Make Tobacco Spray

The secret inTephrosia: Control of the distructive mole rats

tephrosia (muluku)

Tephrosia is effective at controlling mole rats

Under ground rats feed on the roots and lower stems of many crop types including sweet potatoes and cassava. This leads to death of plants there by causing to low yields which affects farmers. They are among the most destructive pests to these crops as they can affect the whole garden.

To control mole rats effectively, plant scattered plants of tephrosia in
the garden and as a boarder around the whole garden.

The Leaves and roots of this tree contain a toxic compound called rotenone, which when eaten by rats can kill them. It also leads to death of many othe r insect types when eaten.

How ever after controlling the rats, remove the plant from the garden as it is dangerous to many other animals.

Also after removing it avoid planting beans and tomatoes because it spreads root note nematodes which mostly affect these 2 crop types. Plant such crops may be after 2 years.


By Mary Nakirya

Why garden Sanitation is Important to Farmers

Mary Nakirya

Garden sanitation is garden hygiene. It involves removal and destruction of sources of diseases, pest infested crops and weeds from the field.

It is important in all field activities especially because un clean fields lead to multiplication od pests and re infection of diseases. One of the biggest problems of farmers in most developing countries is that of pests and disease. It should how ever be noted that these can be minimized if maximum hygiene is kept in the garden.

While carrying out garden sanitation, it is important that even support plants or items are removed before the next crop is planted. For example people who plant tomatoes continuously need to remove the support poles before the next season. When other tomatoes are planted,new poles should be used.

Good practices include:

Removal of  all the crop residues after harvest. Barry these in the ground or even add these to your compost pile.

Remove all diseased crops carefully making sure that there is no close contact with health plants.

Pruning is important as weeding takes place to remove diseased and extra branches.

Clean all farm tools including hoes,panga,knives,gumboots and ploughs as these may be transmitters of diseases and pests.

In case of fruits, remove all those that are rotten or beginning to rot and bury them in the ground.

While weeding, ensure that all weeds are removed and buried in the ground. Also areas around the garden need to be weeded as these may act as habitats for pests.

The water channels in the plantations also need to be kept clean at all times.

Leave spaces where people pass so as they don’t pass every where in the garden.


How to control ticks in cattle

Mary Nakirya

Ticks transmit  many diseases to cattle,goats and sheep leading to heavy losses to the farmers.

Control them by getting 20 grams of dried tobacco leaves,add a pinch of water and keep for six hours. After that time, add 5 litres of water and spray on the affected animals. Also you may spray in the house for effective control.

Crushed tephrosia can also  be used as a spray against ticks.

It is advisable to spray or deep once a week until no signs are seen.

How to Control Mites in Poultry

By Mary Nakirya,Mayuge

These are small insects that suck blood from birds. They are one of the biggest problems in poultry keeping especially to laying birds. They usually hide during day and at night they return to the birds to feed causing severe irritation and stress. They can be carried into your flock from wild birds and can survive without feeding for over eight months. They can also be spread by rodents that enter the poultry houses.

Signs of Red Mites
 They hide around perch ends & cracks in the walls or wood
 Anaemia and death in young chickens
 Pale comb and wattles
 Restlessness
 Blood spots on eggs
 Birds may stop laying eggs
 Reduction in egg laying

 Keeping the beddings clean and fresh, change the litter atleast every 4 months. And removal of feathers.
 Periodic scrubbing of the feeders and nesting boxes with soap and water
 Regular inspecting of the poultry house to hold the problem before harming the chickens.

Natural Control
 Use of garlic:
It is believed that the red mite don’t like the smell that comes off the skin or the taste of blood after the birds have eaten garlic. Thus garlic is a good pesticide to repel them. To make the pesticide crush a hand full of fresh or dried garlic cloves into water. Give the birds to drink at their pace. The garlic can also be added in the chicken food.
 Remove all the birds, clean the house removing the movable beddings and pile the rubbish in sacks or burn them so as they don’t enter the house again
 Spray all the cracked areas in the room
 Leave the house to dry before putting back the birds
 Spray every after 5-6 days before the mites reproduce again
 Crush fresh Eucalyptus leaves and mix in bedding to repel mites.
 Using dust, sand or ash, make a dusting box for your chickens. A dust bath can act as a natural way to getting rid of external parasites since they use it for bathing. Also one can add artificial dusting powders to dust baths so that it gets into the places you have missed. When mites try to enter the birds, they will rub against the pesticide.
 Mixture Paraffin and Vaseline and smear into cracks and fractures on the wall and wood. It chokes the mites killing them.

Pawpaw leaves; a remedy for Nagging Crop Insects???

By Mary Nakirya,Program manager BROSDI

Papaws contain a compound that kills insects and microbe cells. It can be used as a herb against several insect types.

Mix 1 kg of crushed pawpaw leaves with 1 litre of water, then filter and dilute with soapy water at a ratio of 1:4 and apply as a spray against insects. Add two spoons of paraffin to five litres of this mixture to make a spray against aphids, caterpillars, termites and cutworms.

It is important that before using such a mixture to the full plant, apply on a small portion then if there is no effect apply on the whole plant. This is because some plants have a protective layer which can be disrupted by soap mixtures.