Agricultural Sciences

Importance of the cactus scab treatment

Lecturer and Plant Protection Specialist Dr. Mine Erdal from the Department of Plant Production and Technologies of Cyprus International University (CIU) Faculty of Agricultural Sciences and Technologies noted that cultivation of prickly pears is under threat due to the increasing prevalence of the cottony cactus scab, which is detected on the trunks of the prickly pear, one of the important plants of the region.

Pointing out that opuntia, commonly called the prickly pear cactus is an important plant for soil protection as well as for utilizing in semi-arid and arid areas, Erdal said, "It is gaining importance day by day due to its use as food and animal feed."

Erdal reminded that cactus ranunculus was first detected in a cottony form on cactus trunks in Famagusta in 2016, and said, “In the fight against this pest, the Department of Agriculture recommends Movento SC 100 and 400g/l Dimethoate active ingredient and other licensed insecticides. However, the fight against cactus scab needs to be handled in an integrated manner and not only with chemicals but should also be controlled culturally, naturally and biologically."

Erdal also pointed out that various methods have been tried to combat scab on prickly pear cactus in different parts of the world and added that the main ones are the use of clean cuttings in planting and infrequent planting.”

Furthermore, Erdal suggested using varied methods that are resistant to insect breeding and feeding, and stated that natural plant extracts (mint, thyme, eucalyptus oils, etc.) or their mixtures can be used as insecticides.

Pointing out the importance of chemical control in a timely and regular manner and the use of pH regulators and spreaders-adhesives, Erdal stated that the plants used as hosts by the ranunculus should also be cleaned from around the field.

In her statement, Erdal said that ladybugs, which are abundant in Cyprus, are the main predators of these scrabs and said, "If there are enough predatory insects like ladybugs on the cacti and the ladybug population can be controlled, it is useful to think twice about chemical control."