BUSHEHR. With more than 5.5 million palm trees Bushehr Province accounts for around 13% of Iran’s date production. Cultivating dates, however, hardly pays for the farmers. Not only are labour costs on the rise but they are also confronted with many challenges as sales are difficult, water tends to be in short supply and pesticides and fertilizers are lacking. To make matters worse, the two-spotted spider mite (Tetranychidae urticae) is spreading rapidly in the orchards this year. Farmers are highly concerned that production will be heavily damaged in terms of quantity and quality.
Pest active on 90% of orchards
Different date varieties are cultivated on 34,000 ha in Bushehr Province. Farmer reports that two-spotted spider mites are active in more than 90% of orchards. Problem is that if the pest is not terminated in time it will cause great damage. These mites dry the sap, causing the skin of the fruit to dry out. If this damage continues the size of the fruits and their nutritional value will be greatly reduced. The spread of this pest largely depends on temperature, relative humidity and hot monsoon winds. Farmers can determine activity by