Agri Business

Maharashtra’s cotton crop wilts on increasing fungal attacks

Rahul Wadke Mumbai | Updated on November 12, 2020 Published on November 12, 2020

Estimates suggest the crop loss at 25% due to grey mildew attacks

Cotton crop in Maharashtra’s Vidarbha region, which is already facing pink bollworm (PBW) attack and boll rot, has now fallen prey to the fungal attack of Grey mildew.

Crop losses estimates are still being worked out but the field staff of the State Agriculture Department has estimated that about 50 per cent of the crop has been affected by pathogen attacks.

An official said the grey mildew fungal attack can be severe. In a single season, the crop can get repeatedly attacked by the fungus. Losses can be as high as 25 per cent. After the attack sets in, the leaves of the plant start to shed affecting photosynthesis.

In Maharashtra, the grey mildew is commonly referred to as ‘dahiya’ as the fungus looks like sprinkled curd on the leaves.

Worser than PBW

If the PBW infestation happens in two out of the five sections of a cotton boll, the farmer can still salvage his crop from the other three sections; but boll rot and grey mildew can fully devastate the plant, the official said.

In some districts of Vidarbha, about 10-20 per cent of the crop has been affected by PBW, while boll rot and grey mildew have affected another 15-20 per cent but the numbers may vary, the official said.

The official pointed out that since 2017 the PBW attacks have been in the public eye but for boll rot or grey mildew not enough attention has been paid.

Moisture content

The changing weather pattern and erratic but very heavy rainfall in September and October had increased the moisture content in the air leading to the fungal attacks.

Despite signs of decline in cotton production, there is no heavy rush from the traders to buy the available cotton as the market already has a carry forward stock of over 100 lakh bales (of 170 kg each) from the last season.

In Akot APMC of Akola, the modal price on Tuesday was ₹5,400 per quintal, while the MSP is at ₹5,515. Akot is one of the largest markets for cotton trade in Maharashtra. Senior State Government officials were not available for comments.

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Published on November 12, 2020
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