Agri Business

Cotton farmers grappling with weed menace

| | Updated on: Nov 16, 2011

Unwanted plants are causing significant yield loss

After experiencing success with first generation in-the-seed insect protection Bt trait technologies, farmers are now seeking solutions to address other mid-season challenges in cotton, including innovations for weeding, wider insect protection and water stress.

“I grow cotton in three of the five acres of land I have. I started cultivating Bt cotton since its introduction and am an early adopter of Bollgard II technology.

While the income from my farm has been quite remunerative, weeds (unwanted plants growing around the main crop) management is becoming a big challenge for us, particularly because of the acute shortage of farm labour, on the one hand, and the cost of engaging them to pluck the weeds on the other,” says Mr Selvaraj, a cotton farmer of Anukoor Village in Perambalur District.

Mr Selvaraj was joined by fellow farmer Mr K. M. Palanivel of Thedavur village, Salem District, who is also into cotton cultivation. The duo brought a bunch of weeds to explain the plight of farmers in this part of the country.

Yields affected

“While sowing and harvesting grab attention (historically), these weeds, which impact the plant yield potential by 35-76 per cent by robbing the main crop of water, nutrient and sunlight, are becoming a real pain for us.

Managing weeds in the early stage, especially 8-10 weeks after crop emergence, is critical, else, these unwanted plants cause significant yield loss,” said Mr Palanivel.

The duo pointed out that ineffective weed management increased the susceptibility of crops to pests and diseases such as whitefly, jassids, thrips, mealy bugs, etc., restricting plant growth and limiting yield and farm income.

Stressing the need for a spray-formulation to control weed growth, Mr Palanivel said the labour costs moves northwards from mid-season, because around that time we start to rely heavily on manual labour for weeding (July-September) and picking (October- December).

The farmers say that manual hand-weeding with hired labour is done at least 2-3 times per season on an average and intercultural practices such as use of tractor and bullocks, 2-4 times a season.

Published on November 16, 2011

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