Aphid Management In Kales

Pest Identification

Aphids are one of the most significant pests in kales. Kale aphids are grey to green in colour with a waxy coat almost adapting the colour of kales. The waxy coat is key in differentiating the aphid from other pests. The pest forms a dense population on the leaf surface(colony).
Aside from the damages the pest causes through its feeding activities, it is also a common carrier of viruses which cause diseases. Aphids produce a sugary fluid as waste which is deposited on the plant/leaves. This fluid, also known as honeydew facilitates the growth of fungi which then forms black soot on top of the leaf. This suit reduces the penetration of sunlight for photosynthesis, therefore affecting plant growth.

Reproduction and Feeding Behaviour

Aphid is a highly reproducing pest, at its favourable conditions (warm temperatures not hot) an adult female aphid can produce between 40-90 nymphs (young ones). The nymph takes about a week before it becomes an adult. The adult can produce 5 offspring per day for 30 days. The pest spreads by crawling or flying and affects the kales throughout its production cycle
The pest feeds on soft branches, mostly prefers tender, new leaves where they pierce through and suck nutrient-rich sap. Some leaves turn yellow and curl due to insufficient nutrients leading to the absence of green colouring matter causing a reduction in photosynthesis, and this, in turn, affects the overall production of kales.

Control Measures

  • Proper weed control. This is important to keep the pest away as it removes potential hiding places for the pest.
  • Spray them, with clean water. Yes, clean water. Aphids are very fragile insects. All you need is to get a high-pressure sprayer- fill it with water and spray at them and they will fall off the plants and die. You have to repeat this twice a week for three weeks to keep them under control. You can do even more depending on the level of infestation- because it is just water. Before embarking on using chemicals on aphids- if you are working on a big farm- check for weather predictions for your area. If the rains are coming soon- don’t bother- they will be washed off. 
  • Cut banana peels to bury them 5cm deep in the soil around the kales plants to repel and remove aphids from the areas. Banana peels contain a compound that is a natural deterrent to Aphids. If you don’t have banana peelings- you can also use orange peelings. This works like a cham- but limited by the number of bananas you can eat! Maybe you can also collect peelings from the market!
  • Crop rotation with crops not infested with Aphids such as maize. This is important especially in highly infested fields as it reduces the population. If you farming within a community of other farmers- this doesn’t mean that the year that follows you now get to go on a holiday- you will still have some aphids around to deal with courtesy of the neighbouring farms. 
  • Trap them! Science has it that aphids are attracted to yellow surfaces. Get a bright yellow bowl- depending on the size of your garden, you can get several. Have one bowl/plate within 5m by 5m area to be sure they have noticed it. Place some water on the bowl- enough for swimming. The small guys will fly right into the trap- and swim to their death. Problem solved!

Organic Solution

  • Use of insecticidal soap. The fatty acids in the soap dissolve the pests outer body cover making them dehydrate. The recommended soap dish is pure castile soap.
  • Use tomato leaf juice and a little bit of dish soap, tomato leaf juice contain alkaloids that are toxic to aphids after a period of one-day aphids will be shriveled.  
  • Use light horticultural oil neem oil. 

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