As orchards see drop in infections, growers expect bumper production

Apple growers in the Kashmir Valley are expecting a bumper harvest this year as infectious diseases often affecting crop production have declined amid a vigorous campaign launched by the Department of Horticulture to raise awareness for adoption good agricultural practices.

The ministry said that this year there were very less disease occurrences in apple orchards than in previous years.

Director of Horticulture in Kashmir, Ghulam Rasool Mir, said the department has launched awareness campaigns and called on apple growers to follow the guidelines and notices issued by the department from time to time to avoid infection with the disease. scabies.

“This year has seen fewer incidences of scabies and sunlight-induced disease in March and April. There have been no significant reports of scabies and disease in any region. However, last year, scab and diseases have affected apple orchards in some areas,” he said.

Despite the lesser occurrence of scab and diseases in apple orchards, he said the ministry has warned apple growers to follow spraying schedules correctly to avoid any scab and other apple diseases.

“In this regard, mass sensitization programs at the village and district levels are regularly held,” he said.

Talking about scabs or diseases that affect apple production, he said the most prevalent diseases in apples in Kashmir are scab, alternaria, canker, root rot, Marssonina leaf spot, etc. .

The director said early signs of apple scab are often not noticed and those signs include twisted, puckered leaves that have black, circular scaly spots on the underside.

“On the top surface, the spots have a velvety, olive green, sooty appearance. The spots can coalesce and cover the entire leaf,” he said.

Mir said to avoid scabies infection; apple growers and farmers must follow the guidelines and advisories issued by the ministry.

He said that this year there are very less diseases in apple orchards and the department expects good quality products.

The horticulture manager also said cracking of apples has been reported infrequently, if at all, in the valley, it is attributed to abiotic stresses.

Talking about why the leaves turn red at the time of ripening and its causes, he said that apple leaves usually turn yellow and become necrotic due to various fungal diseases such as Marssonina Leaf Blotch, Alternaria, etc. besides various abiotic stresses can also cause leaf yellowing.

“However, the pre-harvest decline is related to several orchard and climatic factors, including tree mineral nutrition, summer pruning, insect or disease severity, water availability, and season temperature. growth,” he said.

The director said that if arborists follow the advice of the department and spray the recommended pesticides at the recommended rates and according to the guidelines issued by the department of horticulture, there will be little chance of disease emerging in their orchards.

Talking about some organic sprays that benefit fruits and keep them free from scab, Mir said, “At present, there are no recommended organic sprays for apple scab control.”

“To make the fruits disease-free, one must adhere to the advisories issued by the Department of Horticulture and SKUAST-Kashmir,” he said.

The director said that while the farmers are harvesting the fruits, care must be taken to pick the fruits safely, as they must be harvested at the correct stage of maturity.

“Skilled labor must be employed for fruit picking. The orchard floor should be cleaned before harvest,” he said.

The manager said proper equipment should be used for harvesting instead of climbing the apple tree.

“Padded baskets should be used to pick fruit. After harvest, the fruits should not be piled up in one place to avoid heat generation,” he said.

“After harvesting, the fruits should be pre-cooled before being stored and proper sorting, grading and packing should be done,” he added.

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