By admin       2017-07-26

July 26, 2017 - HOT AND humid weather with less rainfall in Punjab’s cotton belt has set alarm bells ringing for the state’s Agriculture Department. Chief agriculture officers of the cotton belt districts have been told to be extra vigilant as the temperatures are conducive for the growth of whilefly pest. Six pests per leaf have been detected in some parts of Fazilka, Bathinda, Muktsar and Mansa, while the average growth is between 4-5 pests per leaf in most parts of the cotton belt. Dr Sukhdev Singh, Deputy Director for Cotton, Department of Agriculture, revealed that economic threshold level (ETL) of the pest is six per leaf and therefore there is no scope of taking chances. “This year, area under cotton is 3.82 lakh hectare, while in 2015, when whitefly attack had happened, area under cotton was 3.36 lakh hectare. Last year, farmers had grown cotton on only 2.86 lakh hectare fearing whitefly attack. However, this year we are very concerned and are advising farmers to do regular sprays so as to kill the pest as in the given temperature pest growth is very fast,” he said. According to Dr Sukhdev, “Most farmers have started the first spray on cotton crop by this time, while at places where ETL level is below six, neem spray is being done so as to avoid excessive use of pesticides. Although our scouts are in the field to guide people, but if it rains properly in the coming days, it will be a big relief for cotton farmers.” Dr Jasbir Singh, Director, Agriculture, added,”We have sent an alert to the chief agriculture officers of the entire cotton belt through video conferencing and they are sending us daily reports of action taken. Field reports say that multiplication of pest is fast in Muktsar, Bathinda and Mansa districts.” Dr Sukhdev added,”We have 1000 villages which are under cotton and awareness camps have started in all these villages. We are recommending 6 sprays suggested by PAU and farmers are repeatedly advised not to purchase any other spray as they did in 2015 when disease had spread fast in the cotton belt and had caused huge loss to farmers.” Shingara Singh Mann, President of Bharti Kisan Union (BKU), said, “Few farmers in villages Bhucho Khurd, Mandi Kalan, Kalyan etc have sowed cotton crop and then midway switched to paddy after they saw whitefly pest growth. In Mansa too, in over 7,000 acre of land which was damaged due to excessive rain, paddy was the sown as cotton crop had been damaged completely. Other farmers are still afraid despite doing regular sprays

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