The sugarcane borers, Diatraea spp., In the Cauca River Valley: Participatory research with emphasis on biological control

Cenicaña publishes this document in which the advances in research on the pest are exposed and some considerations are raised about the management of Diatraea in the agro-industry of sugar cane in Colombia.

In 2013, three decades have passed since the formal start of activities in the Entomology area of ​​Cenicaña. Since 1983 the Entomology area has been in charge of research on pests from the cultivation of sugarcane, especially those of economic importance such as the case of borers of the genus Diatraea.

The emphasis on participatory research with mills and farmers has been key in the search for alternatives for comprehensive pest management, since they have allowed research and extension to go hand in hand ensuring good levels of adoption. In the case of stem borers the development of artificial rearing of Diatraea saccharalis It has made it possible to sustain abundant and regular production of tachykin flies used in biological control, which has resulted in maintenance of low levels of pest damage throughout the industry for more than two decades. Also, studies about parasitoid egg wasps Trichogramma exiguum They resulted in the availability of an additional method of management complementary to tachykinid releases. However, the investigation of the borers in Cenicaña has not only revolved around biological control, but has also worked on the formulation of adequate sampling methods, on the use of molecular biology for the identification of species, in the Incorporation of Geographical Information Systems for the location of outbreaks caused by the pest and in the search for more sustainable alternatives in the long term and easy to adopt, such as the characterization of varietal resistance.

These and other topics are discussed in this publication, which contains a description of the different works carried out by Cenicaña on the topic of stem borers and aims to synthesize the advances in knowledge of the pest and raise some considerations about the perspectives of the management Diatraea in the sugar industry. It is important to note that the progress obtained has been possible thanks to the support of countless collaborators in the field and laboratory activities: past and present members of the Plant Health Committee of Sugar Cane, administrative, technical and operational personnel of the different sugar mills ; and field workers, agricultural practitioners, laboratory assistants, thesis students, and research assistants linked to Cenicaña.


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* Entomologist - Cenicaña