Researchers aim to save cotton from curl virus using wheat

By admin       2016-12-14

December 14th, 2016 - ISLAMABAD: Agricultural scientists are working on a technology that will allow farmers to grow wheat and cotton together in the same field with a view to save the latter from the cotton leaf curl virus (CLCuV), said Dr Abdul Majid, Country Manager of the International Center for Agricultural Research in the Dry Areas (ICARDA) on Tuesday. Sharing results of three years of research at the US Embassy, he said the technology has proved to be successful but a couple of years are needed for its application, including development of machinery for the inter-cropping. The research was carried out under the $4.5 million USDA-funded ‘Cotton Productivity Enhancement Programme’ (CPEP) with the objective to develop an intercropping system that allows cotton to be planted early by sowing it directly into standing wheat. This allows the cotton to be more mature and better able to withstand CLCuV. Explaining the technology, he said intercropping can begin a month earlier with last irrigation of the wheat crop. This early plantation of cotton into standing wheat crop would bring a change in the geometry of the two crops, raising income of farmers by saving water for irrigation and better cotton crop, he added. When questioned about the possible loss of wheat as a result of inter-cropping, Dr Majid said 10-11 per cent wheat could be lost but there will be a gain of over 30pc to the farmer. The new technology will be applied initially in Punjab where wheat sowing season starts after mid-November and harvesting begins after mid-May. It was also shared that under the CPEP, 5,000 accessions of cotton germplasm imported from the United States have been screened at cotton growing areas of Multan, Faisalabad, Vehari and Sakrand against CLCuV. Out of these, 63 accessions have so far been declared as resistant and highly tolerant to CLCuV. The CPEP is aimed at minimising the adverse effects of chronic and lethal cotton leaf curl virus disease, its scientific studies and development of genetically resistant varieties using both conventional and non-conventional techniques through highly coordinated approaches at national and international levels. Cotton Specialist at the US Department of Agriculture, Jodi Scheffler said plant breeders have been successful in their mission, and within the next few years, results will be ready to be implemented at farm level, she said. “In Pakistan, she said, research management to get disease resistant varieties is good and based on experience of practices and diagnostic tests. We consider Pakistani scientists to be world experts,” she said. Director-General of National Agricultural Research Centre, Dr Muhammad Azeem said that by utilising virus resistant USDA accessions, breeders at the federal and provincial institutions have developed resistant and highly tolerant lines. “These tolerant lines will be included in preliminary yield trials next year,

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