Nova Scotia

Armyworms devastate Annapolis Valley farm

Armyworms have launched a short, but devastating attack on a corn farm in the Annapolis Valley in Nova Scotia.

Farmer says he spent $50,000 on corn seed

The worms prefer grass, wheat, barley and rye, as well as sweet corn. (Preston Mulligan/CBC)

Armyworms have launched a short, but devastating attack on a corn farm in the Annapolis Valley in Nova Scotia.

Gerry Fulton, of Fury Farms near Berwick, said he planted 50 hectares of corn on a rented field in early July, but the worms - a five-centimetre worm with yellow stripes and a distinctive Y-shaped patch on its head- obliterated his crop within four days.

"Oh it was just flat to the ground, there was nothing left. There is absolutely nothing left. They ate the grass. The only thing left standing in the field was the odd tall weed," Fulton said.

He then contacted the farmers with neighboring fields who were able to spray in time to prevent any damage.

Fulton said he spent $50,000 on corn seed, but the biggest loss was his earning potential.

"Well I'm sick, I mean at today's prices you're probably talking about $140,000. I didn't like it much," he said.

Jack Van Roestek, a field crop specialist with the Nova Scotia Department of Agriculture, said Fulton was hit with some bad luck.

The worms come from moths that lay eggs in the spring. Roestek said the moths that lay the eggs are carried in from American Midwest and this year only a few moved across Nova Scotia.

"They prefer to lay their eggs in grassier cornfields or sometimes hay fields then you've got a larvae hatch from these eggs about four or five weeks later and that's what causes the problem," he said.

There have been two minor infestations in Truro and Hants County this summer.

Armyworms swarmed the Maritimes over a decade ago. In 2001 the New Brunswick government estimated that 12,000 hectares of grain and forage crops had been damaged by the worms.

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