With a ‘leaf fold or curl’ pest attack being noticed in parts of the Doaba region, the state agriculture officers have asked farmers to be alert, but not to panic as the attack is easily controllable at this initial stage. However, they have cautioned that the attack can cause serious damage if not checked right away. Dr Naresh Gulati, Block Development Officer, Jalandhar, said that he had visited several fields in different villages on Monday where the pest attack was noticed.
“It can be managed and even its further outbreak can be prevented if one uses resistant varieties…remove grassy weeds from fields and borders, reduce density of planting and balances it with fertiliser use,” said Gulati, adding that at vegetative phase, crops can generally recover from damage, but when ‘leaf folders’ infest at reproductive phase, the damage can be economically detrimental.
‘Leaf fold’ pest, which is also called caterpillar, folds a rice leaf around itself and feed inside the folded leaf. Experts said that while this pest attacks the crop between August to October, case have been seen in some areas in July itself.
They added that farmers have been told not to use more than the recommended quantity of ‘urea’ fertiliser in the fields as it may have a negative affect on the crop. According to agriculture officers, the current wet weather is aiding the growth of this pest in paddy and basmati crops.
“I have seen folded leaves in my fields and reported it to agriculture department officials, who advised me not to spray anything on it as it is just the beginning and might get washed away from the leaf with heavy showers,” said a farmer, Nirmal Singh, from Talhan village.
Another farmer, Joginder Singh, of Salempur village said that experts visited his fields and advised him to on ways to counter the attack.
“High feeding damage on flag leaves can cause yield loss. It can cause ecological disruptions in natural biological control processes, thus enhancing the development of secondary pests, such as plant hoppers,” said Dr Amrik Singh, Agriculture Development Officer. According to the Agriculture Department if the pest takes hold of more than 10 per cent of the crop then insecticides can be used to fight back.