At least 700 hectares of onion farms in Bayambang, Pangasinan have been overridden by armyworms resulting in reduced production and high prices of the bulbs since December 2020.
The damage from the infestation has yet to be determined but farm gate price of onions rose from P40 a kilo last December to P45 a kilo this month, said Rodolfo Ragos, high-value crops coordinator of the municipal agriculture office.
“Armyworms are most destructive at larval stage when they can decimate an entire farm in one day, or hours, if the onions are still young or seedlings,” Ragos said.
Onion farming covers around 1,500 hectares of agricultural land in Bayambang, mainly producing bulbs of the red variety. Less than 100 hectares are planted with the white variety.
Ragos said some portions of the affected farms could still be salvaged.
The Department of Agriculture (DA) and the municipal agriculture office have given farmers “lure traps” to help eradicate the worms.
The traps attract and capture male moths (adult armyworms), preventing them from mating with female moths. A female armyworm can lay 800 to 1,000 eggs that hatch into a million worms.
Farmers said the pests began to surface during the last week of December while they were still reeling from bulb rot and onion twister, which are common diseases affecting bulbs.
Ragos said onions that are still in the vegetative stage are susceptible to diseases, especially during incessant rains like those experienced in recent months.