As moths are flying around at this time of year, keep an eye out for "dead hearts" caused by the large moth borer (Bathytricha truncate) in young cane.
Look for dead leaves in the centre of plant cane. This pest tunnels into stalks causing foul-smelling frass and tunnels in dead shoots. The appearance of fully-grown caterpillars includes purple-pink back and small black spots.
Moths lay eggs in early spring on young cane and grasses, especially crowsfoot, guinea grass, and rhodes grass. They can be controlled by reducing grass weeds and encouraging parasitoids like wasps and flies.
The good news is that the moth borer is a minor pest and the sugarcane will grow out of the effects, rebounding with new shoots and sideshoots.
This article was originally published in the Spring 2023 issue of Farmacist News. To read the full article, download the printable version using the link below: