Whitefly attack worries Malwa cotton growers - ECAS Punjab

Whitefly attack worries Malwa cotton growers

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Ruchika M Khanna

Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, August 4

Whiteflies have once again struck in the cotton-growing belt of the south Malwa region of Punjab. With the flies being sighted in large numbers, they are threatening a good cotton yield and thus the economic prospects of the growers.

Information gathered by The Tribune reveals that whitefly has been sighted in villages of Mansa — Kot Dharmu, Jhunir, Bhame Kalan, Bhame Khurd, Bhagu Bhagsar, Khairpur, Rajpura, Patti Sadia, Jhorar Kheda and Wajidpur Bhuma— besides a few villages in their vicinity in Fazilka. Against a threshold level of six per leaf, cotton growers say the fly population settled per leaf this year is almost 24-25. Whitefly is a sucking insect and their feeding removes nutrients from the plant, besides leading to stunted growth, defoliation and reduced yield.

Anirudh Tewari, Additional Chief Secretary, Development, said he had received complaints about whitefly attack and had asked Sutantar Kumar Airi, Director of Agriculture, to oversee control measures. “We have enough insecticides at our disposal to control the whitefly. The chief agriculture officers in all districts have been asked to stay alert,” he said.

In 2015, whitefly attack had damaged two-thirds of the cotton crop, with experts then estimating a loss of thousands of crores as farmers were supplied with spurious insecticides. A number of growers, unable to bear the loss, had committed suicide.

Vinod Kumar, a cotton grower in Bhagsar, said they had noticed whitefly on the crop last week and immediately informed the Agriculture Department.

Another cotton grower in Rajpura village, Gurmail Singh, said he had already sprayed the recommended insecticide once, but it had not shown the desired results.

Dr Vijay Kumar, Principal Entomologist (Cotton) at Punjab Agricultural University, Ludhiana, said the climatic condition now was favourable for the growth of whitefly. So far, the situation was manageable with the use of insecticides. “We have issued an advisory to the cotton growers to regularly visit the fields and use only the recommended pesticides,” he added.

from The Tribune https://ift.tt/30tPHut

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