July 9, 2019 / 5:21 AM / 8 days ago

China finds armyworm pest in corn crops in Gansu province

BEIJING (Reuters) - China has found the destructive fall armyworm in corn crops in the northwestern province of Gansu, the local government said on Monday, further stoking fears about damage to the country’s grain output.

The pest, which was found in crops near Longnan city in southern Gansu, has now spread to 20 provinces and regions in China since it was first reported in the southwestern province Yunnan in early January.

Local authorities were urged to buy effective pesticides to counter the pest, the city government said in a statement on its website, referring to a list of 25 pesticides for emergency use recommended by the agriculture ministry.

Beijing said last month it would allocate 500 million yuan ($73 million) for armyworm prevention and control to help secure grain production.

Gansu produced 5.8 million tonnes of corn on about 1 million hectares (2.5 million acres) of land in 2017. China had about 130 million hectares of arable land at end-2017 and grows corn on about 42 million hectares.

Fall armyworms, which feast in large numbers on the leaves and stems of many plant species, including sorghum, corn and sugarcane, can infest and damage hundreds of hectares of crops in a single night.

Reporting by Hallie Gu and Dominique Patton; additonal reporting by Beijing Newsroom; editing by Richard Pullin

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