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Farmers on high alert for ‘gigantic’ brown locust outbreaks

Agri Northern Cape is urging farmers to report brown locust outbreaks to their local district locust officers as soon as they are first observed.

According to Nicol Jansen, president of Agri Northern Cape, the first outbreaks in the province had been reported in the week of 1 November in the Marydale, Groblershoop, Upington, Pofadder and Springbok areas, and more to the south in the Fraserburg area over the weekend of 6 and 7 November reports

“We have not had early spring rain for many years, so have not suffered early outbreaks like this for some time now. An early outbreak like this, however, is not abnormal following early spring rain,” he said.

So far, the locusts were still small, with large numbers being concentrated over small areas.

“They have to be eradicated now while small, because eradication becomes increasingly difficult once the locusts develop wings and are able to cover long distances in one day.”

Damage was generally restricted to natural pastures while the locusts were small, but could be expanded to other crops, such as table grapes, maize and vegetables as they grew larger and turned into fledglings, he explained.

“We hope that the Northern Cape will get good rainfall to alleviate the impact of the locusts on the veld, and that the swarms do not [become large] enough to do damage to crops,” Jansen said.

While government was well-prepared to manage outbreaks, successful management was highly dependent on early detection, reporting and the action taken.

Jansen urged farmers to contact Agri Northern Cape if they ran into any difficulties.

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