A variety of viruses are to blame for the ongoing early ripening of tomatoes in Maharashtra, a report released on Friday by the Indian Institute of Horticulture Research (IIHR) Bengaluru stated. The disease, which was first reported in tomato-growing zones of Satara, Ahmednagar and Pune, had resulted in farmers reporting heavy loss for a crop which otherwise ensures a steady income for them.
Farmers, especially in Nashik, Satara, Ahmednagar and Pune, normally take the summer or rabi tomato in the months of February to July on assured irrigation sources. The kharif or monsoon tomato is taken mostly in Nashik and feeds the market post July. This year, farmers have started reporting early ripening, yellowing and distortion of fruits, which ultimately led to massive crop loss. Visual inspection had not shown any indication of pest attacks, which had baffled farmers.
The Agriculture Department had sent samples of the affected crops to IIHR for testing. The report confirmed the initial prognosis of a viral attack. The IIHR had tested the samples for 12 major viruses, including the cucumber mosaic virus (CMV), chilli veinal mottle virus (ChiVMV), groundnut bud necrosis virus (GBNV), potato spindle tuber viroid (PSTVd), tomato leaf curl Bangalore virus (ToLCBV), tomato lead curl New Delhi virus (ToLCNDV), tobacoo vein distortion virus (TVDV), tomato chlorosis virus (TCV), tomato mosaic virus (ToMV), tomato chlorosis virus (TCV), tomato mosaic virus (ToMV), tomato brown rugose fruit virus (ToBRFV), tomato ring spot virus (TRSV) and tomato spotted wilt virus (TSWV).
The report – a copy of which is with The Indian Express – showed that the samples had tested positive for CMB, GBNV, TCV, ToLCNDV, TbVDV and ToMV. Most of these viruses, the report stated, were transmitted by aphids and whiteflies. The report has recommended setting up of a special investigation team to study the problem in depth, and come up with appropriate agricultural practices.
Suhas Diwase, Agriculture Commissioner, said a special team of scientists will be constituted from Mahatma Phule Krushi Vidyapeeth (MPKV), Rahuri, to come up with practices for tomato growers in the state.
📣 The Indian Express is now on Telegram. Click here to join our channel (@indianexpress) and stay updated with the latest headlines