Shopian: Come spring, fruit growers in Kashmir begin spraying different horticulture mineral oils (HMOs) to keep diseases like San Jo’s Scale and European Red Mite at bay. However, besides mixing insecticide with the HMO, they also spray a huge concentration of oil, which is against the horticulture department’s spraying schedule and scientific standards.
Horticulture experts and entomologists say that excessive concentration of HMO is sheer wastage and also harms the plant, as is mixing of insecticides with the oil during the first spray of the new season.
“When one insecticide is enough to kill infection, why to waste more money by mixing other chemicals with it?” said horticulture entomologist Dr Khursheed Ahmad, posted at SKUAST’s Ambri research centre in Pahnoo.
Ahmad said that all the HMOs recommended by the SKUAST (agricultural university) are equal in effectiveness, which means people should only mix two liters of an oil with 100 liters of water.
“This spray should be done when the minute buds are visible. If orchardists want to go for spray after sprouting, they should add more water to the same quantity of oil,” said another horticulture expert that Kashmir Reader spoke to.
There is a common myth prevailing among orchardists that mixing insecticide with HMO kills more infections. “HMO is not an insecticide. What it does is create a layer around the thousands of eggs of insects and it suffocates them in absence of oxygen and other normal conditions,” said Dr Ahmad.
He added that insecticides are much more toxic than any HMO. “Insecticides kill the beneficial insects as well, and this could be harmful for pollination and a good fruit set-up. It also heavily pollutes the environment,” Dr Ahamad said.
The horticulture department on Tuesday advised orchardists to not to go for sprays for the next one week in view of rains and humid conditions.
Experts say that HMO is mainly sprayed to kill San Jo’s Scale and European Red Mite insects, but it also helps keep other insects at bay to a large extent.