Sunday, May 19, 2019

"New crop-destroying pest enters China amid devastating swine fever epidemic"

From United Press International (also on blogroll at right):
May 16 (UPI) -- A new pest that threatens key agricultural commodities is spreading through China as the nation is reeling from an African swine fever epidemic that may wipe out hundreds of millions of hogs.

The new pest is called the fall armyworm, a moth native to Central America that feeds voraciously on many commodity crops while in its caterpillar phase.

The pest "has no natural predators in China and its presence may result in lower production and crop quality," the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Foreign Agricultural Service said in an advisory. "Experts report that there is a high probability that the pest will spread across all of China's grain production area within the next 12 months."

The moth has arrived as China is losing a large percentage of its food supply to the rapid spread of African swine fever, which has spread to hogs throughout the country.

At the same time, a trade war with the United States limits China's ability to import food to fill the gap. And China had planned to increase production of the very commodities the fall armyworm feeds on.

Impact uncertain
The combined impact of all these factors is difficult to predict, experts say.
"Certainly, the simultaneous occurrence of these two elements are very unfortunate," said Keith Cressman, a forecasting officer with the United Nations Food and Agricultural Organization.

Unchecked, the pest has been shown to reduce corn yields elsewhere in the world up to 20 percent. It is unclear how China's yields will be affected....MUCH MORE