Shopian: The outbreak of various crop diseases after the heavy summer rainfall this year may take a toll on south Kashmir’s apple districts as most of the orchards here were affected with these diseases.
from the Horticulture Department said that these diseases lead to the leaf fall of apple trees, which adversely affects the normal growth, life, crunch, shine and taste of the fruits and hence reduces their market rates.
Orchards in most of the areas, which include Shopian, Pulwama, Anantnag and Kulgam districts in south Kashmir, have been heavily affected. At several places, 50 percent of apple tree leaves have fallen. It looks like autumn came early to the orchards, which were supposed to be full green at this stage.
Orchardists are left highly apprehensive. Mubashir Ahmad Bhat, an inhabitant of Imamsahib hamlet of district Shopian, told Kashmir Reader that he was depressed at seeing the condition of his apple orchards. “The condition of the leaves is worsening day by day; these diseases came all of a sudden after the recent heavy rains. Our whole economy is dependent on our apple crop,” he said.
Like Mubashir’s orchards, many others in the area are in the same condition or worse, while people are left with nothing but prayers.
A senior scientist from the Krishi Vigyan Kendra (KVK) told Kashmir Reader that these days the main problem in our orchards are Necrotic leaf blotch (NLB), also known as bukharat, and Alternaria leaf blotch (ALB). “Necrotic leaf blotch is an abiotic disorder which is caused by high temperatures and high humidity, particularly when there are heavy rains after mid-June,” he said.
Rasool added that Alternaria leaf blotch is a disease caused by Alternaria mali. The burning of orchards is mainly caused by Necrotic leaf blotch. “Both ALB and NLB attain severity during hot summer months after mid-June. Orchards which are weak, especially when there are deficiencies of zinc, calcium, boron and magnesium, are more prone to NLB and ALB. Actually, the dry conditions had made many elements, especially those with less mobility, unavailable for plants, which is why the plants became more prone to these problems,” the scientist added.
He suggests that under these conditions the growers are advised to spray zinc-based fungicides and micro-nutrient sprays to manage these problems.”Besides that, orchardists can contact the Horticulture Department for suggestions for the better care and cure of any kind of diseases and for better quality yield,” he said.
Almost 95 percent of people in Shopian are directly dependent on the horticulture sector, among which apple is a major crop. Likewise, almost 60 percent of the population in district Pulwama is dependent on the apple crop, 60 percent in Kulgam and 40 percent in Anantnag.
About 60 percent of orchardists and apple growers have taken crop loans under Kisan Credit Card (KCC) from banks and financial institutions. Despite a bumper crop in most orchards in this south Kashmir region, paying bank debits will remain a challenge for many orchardists.
The expert also suggested that irrigation at regular intervals is important. Similarly, integrated nutrient management is important for making plants able to defend themselves against disease and disorders