Argentina: Locusts attack blueberries in Yatasto

Last week a swarm of locusts attacked large areas of the blueberry cultivation in Yatasto, south of San Jose de Metan. This area, where the company Extraberries SA has a modern packing plant, is currently the largest producer of blueberries in Argentina.

The area has some 180 hectares cultivated with this crop. On the morning of Monday, October 9, millions of insects began to feed on the fruits and plant leaves in different batches. The situation was critical and very worrisome for the company, as they can't fumigate blueberries, which must meet stringent standards to be exported. As a result, the staff had to scare the swarm away by making noises and loud honks.

Now, Extraberries is analyzing the damage caused by the fierce insect attack.

It should be noted that the firm has already made a public call to hire harvesters for this campaign. They need about 3,000 people to collect the fruits of the fields.

The locust has been lurking in the southern province of Salta for several days and they have already damaged wheat and chickpea crops. They are also causing serious inconvenience to other productions such as beekeeping, as insects are devastating the flora and leaves of different tree species.

Moreover, on Sunday night, Police Station 30 reported that a swarm of locust, had settled on the eucalyptus trees located alongside the national route 9/34, at the height of the Yatasto, after having devastated some green fields.

"There was such a great amount of locust that their weight broke some branches that fell on the road so a highway patrol had to go to that location and signal drivers to reduce their speed in the area," said the police department.

They also said that the locusts had affected blueberry crops and that the officials of Extraberries had held a meeting to assess risks and damages.

According to the Argentine industry these insects began to appear two years ago in the zone of the Coast of the country, coming from Paraguay. At first there were small groups in the provinces of the central region and lately they can also be found in the Northwest. While it is true that the locust are currently not causing great damage to the plantations, the alert spread among the agricultural producers because their capacity for destruction is well known.

Since they can travel about 100 kilometers per day, a swarm of locust can destroy crops from more than one province in a week if they are not urgently restrained. The issue must be faced now before it is too late.

"We have convened this meeting at the request of many producers who are very concerned because the number of locust continues to grow. This is a real scourge; a group of these locusts came to encompass 10 kilometers long by 2 kilometers wide, some 1,000 hectares, which are moving around the area," said the president of the Chamber of Commerce, Fernando de San Roman.

Source: SimFRUIT according to Diario El Tribuno

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