HomeCropTackling Sugarcane Top Shoot Borer: An Integrated Pest Management Guide  

Tackling Sugarcane Top Shoot Borer: An Integrated Pest Management Guide  

The sugarcane top shoot borer, scientifically known as Scirpophaga excerptalis, is a notorious pest that poses a significant threat to sugarcane crops worldwide. Its larvae tunnel into the sugarcane stalks, feeding on the tender growing points and causing severe damage. If left unchecked, this pest can wreak havoc on your entire harvest, leading to a 21 to 37% reduction in cane yield and financial losses. This article will provide you with practical strategies to manage and control the top shoot borers population. 

Adult moth of top shoot borer can be identified by its silvery white wings with feathery tips. Mature larvae are creamy white in color without stripes. Young plants are more susceptible to top shoot borer attack especially in humid environments.  

Type of Infestation

The larvae of the top shoot borer infest the sugarcane plant by boring into the emerging leaves and stem, causing shot holes and dead heart symptoms. 

Scientific Name: Scirpophaga excerptalis  

Most Affected States Due to Sugarcane Top Shoot Borer

The exact distribution of top shoot borer in India is not well documented. However, they are major pests of sugarcane crops and are likely present in sugarcane-growing regions of the country. 

Symptoms of Sugarcane Top Shoot Borer

  • Larvae are mainly found in the apical portion of canes, which borers into the growing point and sucks the sap from stem causing dead heart symptoms. 
  • Dead hearts in grown up canes cannot be easily pulled out. 
  • A parallel row of shot holes in the emerging leaves can be seen. 
  • Red tunnels in the midrib of leaves can be observed. 
  • Due to the growth of side shoots, the plant shows a bunchy top appearance. 

Sugarcane Top Shoot Borer Control Measures

If you are worried about these sugarcane top shoot borer infestations, you should consider an integrated management strategy to control the pest population. Here are some effective measures that can help control sugarcane top shoot borers: 

Cultural Measures

  • Grow resistant/tolerant sugarcane varieties like CO 419, CO 745, CO 6516, CO 859, CO 1158 and CO 7224. 
  • Adopt paired row method of planting sugarcane. 
  • Avoid applying excessive quantity of nitrogenous fertilizers. 
  • Do not cultivate maize or sorghum as intercrops with sugarcane. 

Physical Measures

  • Install Farmoguard Solar Light Trap in the sugarcane fields at the rate of one per acre to attract and kill adult top shoot borer moths. 

Mechanical Measures

  • Collect and destroy the egg masses to reduce top shoot borer infestation. 
  • Remove and destroy the dead hearts in the field. 
  • Set up pheromone traps at the rate of 4-5 traps per acre for monitoring top shoot borers.  

Sugarcane Top Shoot Borer Biological Measures

  • Encourage bio control agents like an egg parasitoid, Trichogramma chilonis, Telemonus beneficiens and larval parasitoid Goniozus indicus, Chelonus sp to keep the top shoot borer populations in check. 
  • Release Ichneumonid parasitoid, Isotima javensis at the rate of 40 pairs per acre as prepupal parasitoid to control top shoot borers. 
  • Biofix Agroneem contains neem seed kernel extract, which when sprayed on crops can disrupt the growth and development of top shoot borer. The recommended dosage is 1 to 1.5 ml per liter of water. 
  • Anand Dr. Bacto’s Brave is an eco-friendly bio insecticide containing Beauveria bassiana which acts on the cuticle of susceptible insects and kills them by producing toxins. The recommended dosage is 2.5 ml per liter of water. 

Sugarcane Top Shoot Borer Chemical Measures

In case of severe infestations, chemical control may be necessary. Apply the following commercial chemicals to control top shoot borer infestations. 

  • Cover Insecticide is a broad-spectrum insecticide which activates the ryanodine receptor, leading to contraction and paralysis of top shoot borers. Technical content in it is Chlorantraniliprole 18.5% SC.  The recommended dosage is 1 ml per liter of water. 
  • Apply Furadan Insecticide, which contains carbofuran 3G granules on the soil at the rate of 26640 gm per acre in case of severe infestation.   
  • Apply Phorate 10% CG at the rate of 12 kg per acre to effectively control top shoot borers. 

Discover more : Pest Management in Sugarcane Crop using UAL Organic Based Products.

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