Whitefly, the sulking pest, has hit the cotton crop in three villages—Dangar Khera, Nihal Khera and Ghallu — in Fazilka district.
Though the population of pest is less than economic threshold (the density of a pest at which a control treatment will provide an economic return), the presence of whitefly on the fibre crop has put the Punjab agriculture department and Punjab Agricultural University (PAU) on alert.
The whitefly destroyed two-third of the total crop cultivated on 4.5 lakh hectares. However, after the report of pest attack, a special team from central integrated pest management, Jalandhar, visited affected fields and interacted with farmers so as to control the attack at early stages. PAU vice-chancellor Dr Baldev Singh is going to convene meeting of agriculture department at Abohar to take stock of the situation.
Led by centre’s assistant director Rajinder Singh, the team found that the crop cultivated near and around orchards and poplar trees is presently more vulnerable to whitefly attack. Chief agriculture officer Sukhdev Singh Brar said though the situation was under control, but the department had advised affected farmers go with spray of nimbecidine pesticide.
“We have also asked the farmers to remain vigilant and must inform the agriculture department if the attack multiplies after pesticide spray,’’ Brar said.
He added that the whitefly not only attacks cotton crop, as it also feeds upon vegetables, flowers and leaves of poplar trees.
The government has gone all out to save cotton crop this year so as to revive cotton related economy. Besides coming up with seven month long plan to ensure pest attack free crop this year, the government has constituted an inter-state committee to save the fibre crop from the whitefly pest.