The cloudy weather coupled with moderate rain showers has invited the late blight disease in potato crop. Experts said that the disease was spreading in Punjab and recommended fungicides to keep it in check. While only one case of late blight was reported from Phaglana village last week, around half a dozen places in Hoshiarpur district have seen the onset of the disease recently, said sources.
Dr Satbir Singh, Deputy Director (Horticulture), Jalandhar, said that the disease could be controlled by spraying fungicides on the crop at weekly intervals.
“Farmers without any delay must spray these medicines. We are holding meetings with farmers to educate them about the disease. They have already suffered from various crop losses in the past,” said another horticulture officer.
Dr Paramjit Singh, state potato nodal officer, said that the spray must be done in a manner that it covers the lower leaves of the crop, too.
He also said that if the ridges on which the potatoes are sown are made high enough to cover the daughter tubers, then it may also reduce chances of their infection.
“Late blight always attacks the crop at the period of tuber formation. If this disease attacks the crop, farmers may suffer 80 to 100 per cent loss.”
Late blight affects all parts of the plant and leaves become small and pale, characterised by brownish spots, said another nodal officer. Even fungus is noted, he added. Tubers, too, go reddish brown. Lack of sunlight and temperatures hovering between 10 and 25 degree Celsius invite the disease.
Potato is a major crop of this region, with a total production of 21 to 22 metric tons. In Punjab, almost 25 per cent of the area under potato cultivation is in Jalandhar itself.