December 2009. A problem on rice in Papua New Guinea. Rice is being damaged in the Aiyura Valley. As the crops are about to form, the seed kernels turn white and prevent grain formation. When the affected kernels are squeezed, a white milky liquid exudes. Rice is a new and emerging crop within the valley. When first planted, there was no problem, but now there is. It occurs on crops grown twice or three times on the same land.
It was thought to be the rice bug (Leptocorisa acuta) feeding during the milking stage. Both the nymphs and adults feed on tender stem and milky grains that cause chaffy or empty grains. The bugs also breeds on various grasses as well as on fruit trees, such as breadfruit, mango, etc. Extensive weedy areas adjacent to rice fields, and staggered rice plantings, favour rice bug populations.
There was a suggestion to check for the whitetip nematode, Aphelenchoides besseyi.