With hot, humid and dry weather conditions continuing in the region, the threat of attack of leaf folder bug looms large over the paddy crop, which is in its development state.
The unfavourable weather conditions have become cause of worry not only for agricultural experts but for farmers as well after the attack of the leaf-folder insect has been reported from several parts of Patiala and Sangrur districts.
If agricultural experts are to be believed, the pest attack has been reported much earlier this time as it is generally reported during the period from August to October.
Leaf folder insect feeds inside the folded leaf creating longitudinal white and transparent streaks on the blade, while cutting off the supply of essential nutrients needed for the proper growth of the plant.
Expressing concern of over scattered attack of the pest in Patiala district, chief agriculture officer (CAO) Balwinder Singh Sohal said though no damage has been reported so far, it can be worrisome if such weather conditions persist for long time.
"The leaf folder attack has been reported at a very early stage of the plant development, but farmers should not panic as the Economic Threshold Level (ETL) is in a controlled stage and the damage is less than 10%," Sohal said.
"We have swung into action and directed farmers to take control measures if damage level to the paddy plant exceeds 10%," he added.
As of now, around 2.31 lakh hectare of area is under paddy cultivation in Patiala district.
Sohal said entomologists have cited that last year's leaf folder attack on mature crop can be a possible reason behind its early attack this season.
"Entomologists believe that after last year's attack before harvesting, insects might had gone into hibernation and might have attacked the crop after coming out of hibernation due to less rain and humid weather conditions in July," Sohal said.
He added that farmers have been directed to adopt mechanical ways, including the use of rope method, for dislodging leaf-feeding insects instead of directly using insecticides and pesticides in pest-ridden fields.
"Heavy shower can naturally make the leaf folder bugs fall from the plant as they are very sensitive and immediately die once dislodged from plant. Farmers should spray insecticides, including Chlorpyhriphos and Monocrotophos, only in case insects are found to be actually feeding on the plant on large scale," he said.
In such conditions, farmers should take rounds of their fields from time to time to avoid a major attack on the crop, said agricultural experts.