Agri Business

Heavy rainfall leads to spread of fruit-rot on arecanut farms

AJ Vinayak Mangaluru | Updated on September 10, 2019 Published on September 10, 2019

Arecanuts affected by fruit-rot spread out in the backyard of a farmhouse in Puttur taluk in Karnataka’s Dakshina Kannada district

Farmers expect around 30 per cent crop loss till now

Farmers in arecanut-growing regions are concerned about the impact of heavy rainfall this year. Many expect a crop loss to the tune of 30 per cent because of the incidence of fruit-rot in many plantations. However, the disease is limited to a few locations at the moment.

Patte Venugopal, an arecanut grower from Puttur taluk in Dakshina Kannada district, told Business Line that he has suffered a crop-loss of around 45 per cent so far. Incessant rainfall in August and September has led to the aggravation of the disease on his plantation.

Opining that the incidence of the disease is more in plantations with high humidity levels, he said some locations in the district have not been not as badly affected by the disease.

(Fruit rot is characterised by rotting and heavy shedding of immature nuts. Continuous heavy rainfall with intermittent sunshine, low temperatures and high humidity are the factors behind the spread of disease.)

Referring to his interactions with farmers, Shankaranarayana Bhat K, vice-president of the Central Arecanut and Cocoa Marketing and Processing Cooperative (Campco), said growers have been expecting at least a 30 per cent crop loss till now, and the disease is limited to a few locations.

Apart from heavy rainfall, the quality of fungicide (copper sulphate solution) sprayed in the plantations is also one of the reasons for the spread of the disease, he said.

Fungicide challenge

Stating that the cooperative supplies the fungicides to its grower-members, Bhat said it has not received any complaints on the quality till now. However, he said, there have complaints from farmers who sprayed fungicide purchased from private traders.

Sripada Rao, a farmer from Varadahalli village of Sagara taluk in Shivamogga district, said he had lost around 90 per cent of his crop because of fruit rot till now, in spite of two rounds of fungicide spraying in July and August. More than 50 per cent of plantations in Sagara taluk face the problem, he said.

The lack of skilled manpower to spray the fungicide is another reason for aggravation of the disease, Rao said.

Estimating the crop loss on arecanut plantations at around 30 per cent, Ravish Hegde, General Manager of the Sirsi-based Totagars’ Cooperative Sale Society (TSS) Ltd in Uttara Kannada district, said the major impact of the disease was visible in the traditional arecanut-growing belts of Dakshina Kannada and Uttara Kannada, Karnataka’s coastal districts.

Cultivation of the crop has been extended to non-traditional areas in the dry regions of Karnataka in recent years.

These regions had beein witnessing a rain deficit all these years. However, they got received rainfall this year. Interestingly, fruit rot has not had much of an impact in these regions, he said.

Hegde hoped that the overall crop yield would not be affected as the non-traditional arecanut belt is likely to compensate the loss from the traditional belt.

Published on September 10, 2019

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