Fear of Alternaria disease, and confusion over fungicide spray, in south Kashmir

Fear of Alternaria disease, and confusion over fungicide spray, in south Kashmir

Shopian: Amid repeated rain showers since Monday morning and humid temperatures, orchardists are apprehensive about breakout of Alterneria in fruit trees, particularly apple, but experts warn against use of any fungicide after the rains.

Horticulture experts say that the incubation period of Alterneria is not more than three days and if the disease occurs, it will come out after three days, but premature use of fungicide will only damage the leaves.

The agricultural varsity, SKUAST Kashmir, on Monday issued an advisory that orchardists should go for sprays after the rains. But many of the varsity’s own scientists have different opinions.

Showkat Ahmad, a senior horticulture expert at SKUAST, said that it was better if orchardists had sprayed before the rains. “It fights the infection to a large extent. In other words, it doesn’t let the infection to come out or incubate,” he said, adding that orchardists are the best scientists, who know best what effect on leaves happens when they spray for alterneria after rains.

A SKUAST scientist, wishing not to be named, told Kashmir Reader that it’s true that alterneria every year affects hundreds of orchards, mostly in low-lying areas, as the presence of moisture and humidity gives best environment to the alterneria to come out. “I would like to tell them to avoid any spray after present rains as it surely will escalate the problem. They should spray after some days,” he said.

Javid Ahmad Dar, an orchardist from Shopian, said that he has witnessed increase in damage in leaves when he sprayed after rains last year. “I would suggest people not to spray now, as majority of my produce last year was affected first due to alterneria and then when I sprayed after rains in this season,” he said.

In south Kashmir, dozens of orchards have been affected due to alterneria since last week when an intensive heat wave hit the valley.

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