Ever since mango trees began flowering in both western and eastern Uttar Pradesh this season,farmers as well as scientists at the Central Institute of Subtropical Horticulture (CISH),Lucknow,are working overtime to save the crop.
In the districts of Sandila,Barabanki,Malihabad in Lucknow,Saharanpur and Muzaffarnagar,scientists are helping farmers in pest management.
Starting March,CISH launched a special series of weekly visits and Expert se baat kareen telephonic sessions where farmers can call up the institutes special helpline numbers every Friday.
Scientists are also giving information on management of powdery mildew,a fungal disease that commonly hits the crop during its flowering season of March and April.
The frenetic activities are not without reason. CISH assesments have revealed that this years mango crop would be about 40 per cent less than last years.
Dr H Ravishankar,director,CISH,said: Our scientists have checked the orchards in various districts. They found that the flowering has not been very good,both for Chausa that is common in West UP,and Dussheri that is mainly found in Lucknow,and surrounding districts. Now only irrigation and pest management can save this below normal flowering.
According to horticulture scientists,mango trees have a biennial bearing period that is a regular crop year is followed by a shy bearing year.
Said Ravishankar: A bumper crop always succeeds an average crop,where the farmers try to ensure that they are able to the save the maximum part from pest infestation. But variations in temperature,which can be a result of climate change,can make the crop yield dip further. Pests like powdery mildew further reduce production,make the fruit weaker and also tell on the quality.
Powdery mildew disease affects the inflorescence,stalk of the inflorescence,new leaves and young fruits. Its characteristic symptom is the appearance of white superficial powdery growth on flowers.
The most devastating phase of the disease is when inflorescence stage is attacked by the fungus resulting into shedding of flowers. These conditions usually prevail in the northern parts of the country around middle of March.
In cases of severe powdery mildew infection,more than 50 per cent crop losses may occur, said Ravishankar.
President,All India Mango Growers Association,Insram Ali,too,cautioned that the state mango production would be lower than the last year. The production would be lower by 20-25 per cent and if we do not save the trees from diseases like powdery mildew,which are the earliest attackers,it would further dip by 25 to 30 per cent more.
Another eminent mango grower,Padamshree Kaleemulah Khan,who owns the Abdullah nursery,said,With variation in temperature,the chances of attack of the powdery mildew are quite high. We are trying our best manage this pest.
Last year,UP had witnessed a bumper mago crop production of about 300,000 tonnes.