26 February 1999

HDC targets root fly

CASH from the Horticultural Development Council is to back work to find non-organophosphate insecticides to control cabbage root fly in brassica field vegetables.

The pest costs the industry about £60m a year in unmarketable produce.

"Swede and turnip growers are most at risk, as the most vulnerable and marketable part of the plant is attacked by the pest," says Stan Finch of HRI Wellesbourne. "Finding alternative insecticides to control the cabbage root fly has never been so urgent."

Without adequate insecticidal control, it is estimated that 24% of the plants in field brassica crops would be rendered unmarketable by the cabbage root fly.

But even if cultural methods could be relied on to lower overall damage to 15%, the industry would still face losses of £23-31m per annum from the 34,000 ha (84,000 acres) that needs protecting, says Dr Finch. &#42