Early scab infection in apple leaves worries orchardists

Early scab infection in apple leaves worries orchardists

Shopian: Early scab infection in leaves of fruit trees, especially apple trees, has appeared after many years in Kashmir. Horticulture experts believe that the frequent rains in March, which delayed fungicide spraying till after March 27, are among the reasons for this early infection.

Hundreds of orchardists in both south and north Kashmir are taking advice from experts on how to deal with this scab infection, which they are seeing after many years.

Dr Tariq Rasool, a senior SKAUST scientist posted at KVK Balpora Shopian, told Kashmir Reader that under the prevailing temperature, the scab infection shows its symptoms after 18 to 20 days. “As per our information, the infection appeared on 27 March after rains, and mostly it is the orchardists who had not sprayed any fungicide till then are seeing such infections on leaves,” he said, adding that such infections usually appear in the month of May due to rise in temperature.

Dr Rasool said that the scab infection which has appeared is not likely to infect the fruit, which has just started budding. “Orchardists should go for spraying now, in flowering season. If there is only 30-50 percent petal fall in the flowers, they must go for sprays,” he said.

According to experts, scab infection is the main disease that attacks apple trees despite orchardists doing 10 sprays of fungicides to contain it. “This disease mainly appears in apple after rains, if fungicide has not been sprayed before, or when there is a long gap between rains and the last spray,” another horticulturist at KVK Balpora said.

Experts advise orchardists not to worry but to begin fungicide spraying as soon as possible. “It was an old infection which had incubation period of 18 days, and it appeared when there was neither fruit nor flowers on the trees. It would not cause any harm to fruit,” said Dr Tariq Rasool.

Apples affected by scab infection fetch less than half the market rate compared to Grade A fruit.

Officials said that reports of leaf infection have been received from all districts in Kashmir, except in the higher reaches where due to climatic conditions the sprouting was late compared to in the plains.

Statistics show that every year a large chunk of fruit gets affected with scab disease, sometimes due to inclement weather and sometimes due to fungicides not being sprayed on time, i.e., before or after rains.

Fruit growers say that the weather forecasting by the MeT department was not precise, as despite the prediction of dry weather, rains frequently lashed the valley during those days.

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