The Alert and Phytosanitary Information Network (RAIF) of Andalusia has warned about the presence of Tuta absoluta in tomato crops in Almeria. The agency stated that “the tomato leafminer moth (Tuta absoluta) had been captured in almost all of the tomato plots in the province of Almeria. Plant damage is increasing and has been detected in 1 out of every 20 plants. Fortunately, the damage to the fruit is very low and production losses are minimal for the moment.”
Controlling this pest
To control this pest effectively, the RAIF recommends biological control, by releasing Nesidiocoris tenuis and Trichogramma achaeae, while continuing to combine practices such as greenhouse enclosures, using pheromones, and getting rid of plant debris and damaged organs. If necessary, producers should also use chemical compounds within an integrated control strategy that considers the most appropriate action at all times.
The measures recommended by the RAIF include:
- Putting up meshes in the lateral openings, zeniths, and doors, then monitoring and controlling the state of the meshes, especially of those that coincide with the direction of the prevailing winds.
- In greenhouses, checking the plastics to make sure they have no holes.
- Eliminating weeds and crop debris, as they can act as a reservoir for the pest.
- Using healthy plant material from authorized nurseries or seedbeds. Producers must keep their Phytosanitary Passport for one year.
- Growers should not associate crops in the same plot.
- Growers should not abandon the crops at the end of the cycle.
- Growers should protect the plants' first vegetative stages.
- In greenhouses entrances, the RIAF recommends installing a double door, or a door and mesh of the same density as the outside (minimum 10x20 threads/cm²).
- Removing and destroying damaged fruits.
- Placing pheromone traps and light traps that help detect the first flights of adults.
- The new plantations should be carried out later than usual.
- Fertilize in a balanced way to avoid excess vigor. Avoid excess nitrogen fertilizers.
- Perform crop rotations.
- If producers want to apply manure, they must make sure it is well fermented and free from pests.
- Favor the proliferation of auxiliary insect populations, rationalizing the use of phytosanitary products.
- Remove and destroy pruning debris.