As the Punjab Agricultural University (PAU) has concluded that cotton grown in kinnow orchards is more prone to whitefly pest attack, the varsity may seek a ban on intercropping. It is waiting for data from the field to support its study for seeking a ban.
PAU teams are visiting the areas where cotton is grown in kinnow orchards. “The phenomenon we have noticed is that pest grows faster in or near a kinnow orchard. It gets better shade and food from the citrus crop, where they thrive and but to complete their lifecycle and lay eggs, they choose cotton plants,” said PAU V-C BS Dhillon.
Director, agriculture, JS Bains, said intercropping was a problem and the agriculture directorate was educating farmers to discourage it. “But they don’t listen to us, they will always try to grow more crops in one season for more profits,” he adds.
This season, out of cotton crop grown over 2.56-lakh hectares, 4,400 hectares of cotton crop is infested with whitefly. Last year, about 60% of the crop was damaged due to whitefly. “Though the percentage of infested area is much less, but the pest multiplies and spreads fast, so we are monitoring it,” adds Dhillon.
Dhillon said he was waiting for the data from the field of current and previous cotton seasons to know the reason behind the spread of the pest. He said cotton grown along the maize and bajra fields too have higher pest infestation.
“In case we find things getting out of control due to intercropping, we will seek ban from the state government,” he said.
PAU asked why new varieties are better
As the PAU has sought clearance for 24 seeds varieties of cereals and vegetables, the varsity has been asked by the government to list their social and economic impact.
“New seeds given to the farmers should have specification list about input cost and the profit margin, besides other advantages to the farmers,” said additional chief secretary NS Kalsi, in-charge of the agriculture department.
PAU vice-chancellor BS Dhillon agreeing to the view said they will now mention the production cost of new seeds and how they were more useful.
“Like PU 658 wheat variety is best for ‘chappatis’ and PR 124 variety requires least irrigation. These things look minor but they are important. We have decided to do listings for all new varieties in future,” said Dhillon.