After scab, alterneria hits south Kashmir orchards

SHABIR AHMAD

ANANTNAG: After scab, which hit at least 60 percent of orchards in the Valley, alterneria has engulfed the orchards in south Kashmir, with fruit growers saying 10 to 20 percent orchards have already been hit by the disease.
The areas, where the disease has surfaced, include Dachnipora, Kulgam, Shopian and Yaripora. “At least 10 percent orchards have suffered pre-mature leaf fall in our area in just one week. The leaves of the trees first dry up and then start falling. If the disease if not controlled at the earliest, it may destroy the orchards, said a fruit grower, Ghulam Nabi.
The orchardists blame substandard pesticides for scab and alterneria. “The authorities have ensured availability of pesticides of a few particular companies in the market while those which had showed good results in controlling the diseases are missing. Irony is that the authorities have failed to issue any advisory to the apple growers as far as the disease is concerned,” said another fruit grower, Gulzar Ahmad.
Experts and officials say the disease may badly affect the overall apple production. “Due to the premature leaf fall the development of the fruit is badly affected which in turn affects the production. Though the situation is not alarming, steps need to be taken to control the further spread of the disease,” said an expert, Imtiyaz Ahmad.
Chief Horticulture Officer, M Y Dar cited the rise in temperature and humidity as the main reasons for the disease. “Sudden rise in temperature after the continuous rains for several months could be the main reason for alternaria. Besides the poor environment in the orchards also contributes to the disease,” he said.
Dar said that if there is no let up in the temperature in coming days the disease may spread further. “But we have many effective pesticides available in the market which can help a long way in controlling the disease,” he said.