KAROO HIT BY BROWN LOCUST OUTBREAK


THE Eastern Cape Department of Rural Development and Agrarian Reform continues to train farmers in the Sarah Baartman District on Brown Locust Management, after the area and the Chris Hani District was hit by Brown Locust Outbreak in October. 
The outbreak affected about 127 Farms in areas such as Middelburg, Graaff-Reinet, Aberdeen, Cradock, Nieu- Bethesda, Pearston and Jansenville. 
Spraying with knapsacks and bakkie pump sprayers started soon after identification and farmers are continuously being trained as guided by the Locust Policy of South Africa (1998) to ensure that they are well equipped in adhering to insecticide protocols regarding their use, handling and storage, including dosages needed per ha. 
The Provincial Department has compiled a list of emerging farmers in the affected districts who will be trained so that they can participate in the management of the pest before the swarms reach the flying stage. Whilst officials are also busy scouting, all farmers are urged to report any new outbreak to extension officers in their local and districts offices so that they can receive help and participate in the management of the pest in their farms. 
According to the department’s entomologist Dr Nolitha Skenjana the locusts are currently in stage 1 with some turning into stage 2, which is a good time for spraying to occur because the insects are not yet flying. 
“We are now left, in estimation, with just more than 21 days, then they will be flying and it will be difficult to spray them at that time. Systems are in place to successfully manage the pest,” said Dr Skenjana.
Facts about Brown Locust 
The brown locust is a classified agricultural pest in South Africa, preferring mainly grasses and cereals, though other crops can also be attacked. 
According to literature on the activities of the brown locust
in the Karoo, brown locusts overwinter in the egg stage. Egg hatching begins in September after the first rains and continues in October, with flying commencing in December. 
When conditions are conducive, and rain is abundant, further laying may occur encouraging the cycle to continue (Khambuke, 2010).