Unexpected outbreak of fruit rot and leaf blight diseases in tomato and capsicum crops owing to early rain coupled with warm temperature is giving sleepless nights to tomato and capsicum growers of the state.
The diseases have now started taking a heavy toll on these crops in mid hills of the state.
Notably, tomato, known as “Red Gold” in the farming community of this hilly state was grown as one of the major off-season cash crop in lower and mid-hill zones, including Solan, Sirmour, Bilaspur, Una, Kangra, Hamirpur and Mandi districts. It was grown over 20,000 hectares with annual production of 8 lakh metric tonnes.
So far, the prevalence of these diseases has caused damage to over 30 to 40% of tomato and capsicum crops at various locations in low and mid-hill zones of the state. This has led to a sudden rise in the demand of capsicum in the wholesale market and currently the price of capsicum in various fruit and vegetable markets has reached up to Rs. 30 per kg.
The wholesale price of tomato during this peak season is hovering between Rs. 20 and Rs. 40 per kg in various markets of northern parts of the country.
“Heavy rain and increase in diurnal temperature during the current rainy season make these crops vulnerable to attacks of various fungal and bacterial pathogens, thereby causing heavy yield losses,” said a senior scientist of Dr YS Parmar University of Horticulture and Forestry, Nauni.
He said after the receipt of complaints from farmers, the scientists of the university had visited some of the worst-affected areas and had advised the growers to follow recommended spray schedule and prescribed measures to prevent further spread of these diseases.
Untimely rain, especially in June, has led to increase in humidity and waterlogging in the fields that help spread fungal diseases. The losses are expected to rise further if rain continued for next couple of days in lower parts of the state. The rain normally affects the growth of plants and lead to leaf defoliation and related diseases in these crops.
“The officials concerned of the agriculture department and farm universities should immediately visit the affected areas and educate the farming community to check the spread of the disease as the farmers were suffering heavy economic losses due to these diseases during this season year after year,” said a progressive farmer of Chail area, Sohan Singh.
A visit to some parts of the region revealed that the prevalence of “Buckeye Rot” disease, fruit rot and leaf defoliation has caused heavy economic losses to the growers.
“Buckeye Rot” mainly occurs when temperature falls during night, following rainfall during the day time. Though the diseases were common in rainy season, lack of transfer of latest researches from laboratory to fields has spelled doom for crops. The impact of these diseases could be reduced to some extent if the growers would follow the recommended spray regularly, said an agriculture expert.
Another farmer of Oachghat area Devinder Thakur said the prevalence of disease was leading to death of plants and rotting of fruits in the fields. This is causing heavy economic losses to the
“Since the diseases have mainly caused extensive damage in irrigated areas, we have already taken up the issue with officials concerned to organise workshops to suggest the farmers about control measures,” said state secretary of the Kisan Morcha Tirth Ram Thakur.