Shopian: The incessant rains this year have made fruit growers apprehensive of another gloomy year of production, the threat being the outbreak of a major scab infection like in last year.
Kashmir last year witnessed a huge decline in fruit production, particularly apple, of which more than 30 percent crop was affected by diseases. This year the continuous rains during flowering season are a grim omen as already a scab infection is being noticed in apple trees.
According to horticulture experts, last year’s rains during flowering season were lower than that of this year. However, they warn, decline in temperature and wet weather not only affects pollination but also causes injuries to the pollen, which ultimately leads to its death.
While growers are apprehensive about production, a major scab infection has already broken out in fruit trees, particularly of apple, even those which had been sprayed thrice since the green tip stage, orchardists based in Shopian told Kashmir Reader.
“Wet weather from the green-tip stage till the end of May can cause major scab infections,” Mushtaq Ahmad, a senior horticulture official, also confirmed.
Nazir Ahmad Thoker, an orchardist from Pargochi Shopian, told Kashmir Reader that he has seen a major scab infection in his apple trees despite the fact that he has sprayed three fungicides so far. “Previously we used to spray only on fungicide till this stage of flowering and there used to be lesser infections, but this year even after spraying thrice, we see a major scab infection,” said @ worried Thoker who owns over a hectare of apple orchards.
Fruit growers again question the standards of fungicides which have been approved and recommended by the SKUAST university.
“I believe that the fungicides recommended by SKUAST around March 21-25 were not those which should be recommended at the same stage. There were rains and yet authorities advised of contact fungicide, which should have been replaced with systematic fungicide at that stage,” said a horticulture official wishing not to be named.
Dr Mushtaq Ahmad, senior scientist at SKUAST, told Kashmir Reader that orchardists should go for any advised fungicide after the petal fall.
“Though there is no such recommended fungicide at flowering stage but in such conditions orchardists can go for fungicides at 60 percent petal fall, not before that,” he said.
Ahmad said that incessant rains in the past many days are among the reasons for early breakout of scab.
“On the one side there were continuous rains during the sprouting season and on the other hand there was last year’s inoculum, which led to early breakout of scab,” he said.
He, however, said that orchardists should not worry about the production as there were rains even in past but despite that there was good crop.” People are being lured to use one of the other chemicals. It is better for them to follow the official spray schedule of SKAUST,” he said.