Although it is a very localized crop, agricultural plots destined to grow rice occupies a large part of the world’s agricultural land.
It is not a type of fruit that we like to grow individually or amateur, or a small plant that we can have in our garden or terrace, but quite the opposite.
This makes this type of crop more vulnerable when it comes to talking about pests since the larger the area under cultivation, the greater the risk of damaging insects to expand, and therefore, it is more difficult to control them.
Even so, we can give you all the necessary information to know the rice pests and what methods we can use to control these pests.
A very human crop
More than 90% of the world’s rice production is dedicated to human consumption. This is because rice is, first and foremost, complete food that is part of the vast majority of food and diets in the world, not only in the richest countries but also in those in development.
The areas of the world where it is most cultivated are China and India, where it is believed that this cereal originated, while in Europe, countries such as Italy, Spain, and Greece stand out.
In Spain, the annual rice campaign moves more than 250 million euros, since it has about 110,000 hectares dedicated to this crop, many of them with Denomination of Origins, such as rice from La Albufera (Valencia) or Calasparra (Murcia).
In general, these are areas of high salinity and with strong environmental restrictions such as deltas and marshes near natural parks or rivers, which tend to have prone soils.
Rice is the second most-produced cereal in the world, and in fact, in countries like Bangladesh or Cambodia, it represents the equivalent of almost three-quarters of the population’s food.
There are numerous varieties collected in four types: short-grain rice, medium-grain rice, long grain rice, and wild rice.
Nutritionally, it contains high amounts of starch and provides a high caloric content while being easily digestible due to its large amount of fiber.
In addition, it does not have gluten, so it is a suitable food for those who suffer from intolerance.
When it comes to growing rice, we must keep in mind the area we want to dedicate to this purpose, as this type of crop demands very specific requirements.
Its care and correct cultivation are essential to prevent the appearance of annoying pests subsequently, so here we leave some tips to cultivate rice as the best pest prevention method correctly:
- Before starting planting, it is essential that we prepare the soil properly. First, the ground must be leveled to prevent slopes.
- At the end of winter, the lifting tasks are carried out on the ground, trying to leave the area well disintegrated.
- Before sowing, we must make sure that the soil is flooded approximately 5 centimeters high.
- When the water is already clear after having deposited the sludge at the bottom, it is the best time to begin planting. The average dose is between 140 and 180 kilograms of seed per hectare.
- When we carry out the irrigation work, we must take into account that the water level is adequate in proportion to the growth of the plant.
- When the rice already begins to garner, it is time to cancel the irrigation. It is also the time to make the collection with a combine.
Rice pests and how to identify them
When the rice cultivation campaign advances, we must remain alert to the possible appearance of pests and diseases in our rice paddy.
If we do not control them in time, they can cause great losses in production. Although harmful insect pests are associated with all crops in the world, rice has some specific pests that you should know to identify them in time. Here are the most important:
- The donuts are a species of caterpillars that go unnoticed by the farmer because they act at night. During the day, they find refugees underground, and it is at sunset when they go out to feed. To identify them, we must look for the damages they produce in the margins of the rice fields or in the areas with the highest planting density. They feed on the leaves, so we must pay attention to them.
- The rice borer is a moth-like insect that feeds directly on rice. If we want to identify its presence, we must pay attention to the leaves of the plant, because if we have some specimens of this pest hanging around it, we will know from the appearance of the leaves: they usually dry and roll on themselves.
- The rice weevil is an insect that is usually present not so much in the plant but in the granaries or stores of rice grain.
- The rice miner comes from the eggs that the flies leave on the leaves of the plant.
- The green bug is another of the easy to identify pests in plants despite the fact that its color is very similar to that of the rice plant in its development phase. However, its size is large enough not to notice its presence.
- The aphid, as in most crops, also feeds on the fruits of rice.
- Finally, there are beetle larvae known as a blind hen that feeds on the roots of the plant, so it is more difficult to identify since they are not found with the naked eye. The track of its presence must be given to us by the health of the plant.
How to fight pests in rice
Although the appearance of pests is often unavoidable due to geographical location or changes in temperature, preventing them is the best way to fight them.
However, if pests are already present in our harvest, we can use some methods to eliminate pests from rice. Here are some of them:
- In case the plague goes to the stored grain, if there is not much quantity, try to store it in airtight containers to prevent the entry of unwanted visitors.
- The rice weevil, for example, is usually removed by applying CO2 in the silo to suffocate possible pests.
- The neem oil or neem has also proved very effective against pests such as leafminer or aphid. Remember to check in the agro-garden or phytosanitary shop where you buy it the right amount for your crop extension.
- One way to use biological insecticides is to incorporate a natural predator. For example, Bacillus thuringiensis feeds on caterpillars. You can get a concentrate by buying online.
- The use of potassium soap is also effective against the aphid, as it creates a film on the leaves and suffocation of the plague. You can buy it at any store specializing in gardening and agriculture or make a home remedy by buying soap in pills known as a lizard. Chop the tablet and soak it and strain the water to use it as a sprayer.
- Finally, remember to keep the surroundings of the crop clean and free of weeds, as these serve as a refuge for most pests.