May 29, 2021 6:35:57 am
WITH WET and humid conditions prevailing in many parts of Himachal Pradesh this summer due to frequent rains, horticulture experts have asked apple growers to watch out for a possible outbreak of apple scab – a fungal disease that afflicted the fruit in the state on a large scale last year.
Their field visits halted by the Covid pandemic and the curfew, plant pathologists at the horticulture and forestry university at Nauni are now issuing advisories and a recommended spray schedule to apple growers over Whatsapp to help them fight scab and other plant diseases.
A university official said that two new combinations of fungicides have been added to the apple spray schedule this year, which are expected to delay or prevent the build-up of resistance in pathogens.
Venturia Inequalis, the fungal organism which causes scab, attacks both leaves and fruit, forming dark spots or lesions and turning the infected fruit corky. The infected fruit may drop prematurely or become susceptible to other organisms.
“During winters, the fungus lies dormant in fallen leaves of the apple plant, and starts maturing as spring arrives. Apple farmers can collect these fallen leaves and decompose them in a compost pit or spray urea on the orchard floor to ensure their fast decomposition,” said an official from the department of horticulture.
Apple scab is believed to have first appeared in Himachal in 1977, and outbreaks recurred in the early 1980s and mid-1990s.
The disease returned last year affecting over 4,000 hectares across six apple-growing districts at one point in time. Wet and humid weather from March to May was attributed as the likely cause of the outbreak as humidity favours the spread of fungal spores.
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