Monday, June 4, 2012

Mysterious disease attacks kinnow plants in Fazilka

Praful Chander Nagpal

Fazilka, June 3
A mysterious disease has attacked kinnow plants in Fazilka district, as a result of which the plants have started drying up. The development has forced the horticulturists to uproot the dying plants in certain villages of the district famous for growing quality kinnows.

"An unknown disease has attacked the kinnow plants during the past about three to four weeks," says the state award winner in kinnow cultivation, Sidharath Periwal of Khippanwali village, and Rubash Jakhar of Pattrewala village.

According to the official figures, nearly 25,000 hectares is under kinnow cultivation in Fazilka district. Kinnow plants in Karni Khera, Penchanwali, Mohammad Pira, Muradwala, Sappanwali, Khippanwali, Jhumianwali, Aalamgarh, Patterewala, Wazidpura, Mammukhera and other villages have come under the attack of the yet-to-be-identified disease.

"We have been compelled to uproot nearly three dozen dying kinnow plants as over the years, these have become resistant to the chemical fungicides used to fight diseases," says Raj Davinder, a horticulturist of Mammu Khera village. His family has devoted around 40 acres to kinnow cultivation.

Local traditional and progressive horticulturists say that the root of healthy kinnow was hit by the disease.

An eminent horticulturist, Prem Babbar, who has been providing counselling on kinnow cultivation for over more than two decades, says normally, the cause of infection in the root of kinnow plants was due to a disease called phytopthora. However, a chemical fungicide recommended by the Punjab Agricultural University to treat the infected plants was proving ineffective these days. It gives rise to the speculation that the plants were under the grip of some mysterious disease.

Babbar, who is popular as kinnow king, says the PAU should make a trial on a bio-fungicide to treat the plants attacked by phytopthora, under its direct supervision and monitoring.

Notably, kinnow cultivation is popular amongst traditional horticulturists of Fazilka and Abohar areas. The horticulturists earn good dividends by quality kinnow cultivation. They have also won state and national prizes in this field.

Meanwhile, it has also come to light that another reason for early drying up of the kinnow plants could possibly be that some plants acquired from nurseries for transplantation are already affected with phytopthora.

While talking to The Tribune, Deputy Director (Horticulture) Jagnandan Singh Brar admitted that some kinnow plants were dying. He listed three possible reasons for the same. Besides phytopthora, deficiency of micro-nutrients and intense hot weather could be proving harmful to the kinnow plants. He says the problem was likely to be solved after the arrival of monsoon.

A team of PAU horticulturists, led by District Extension Specialist (Horticulture) Dr Mohika Gupta, shall visit the affected villages in Fazilka district for an on-the-spot survey and a field study to identify the reason behind the dying kinnow plants.

No comments: