Seeds major Mahyco has developed a new hybrid chilli that is tolerant to black thrips, an invasive pest that has caused significant concerns for growers in recent years. The thrips-resistant chilli is presently undergoing multi-location trials and is expected to be launched in the upcoming cropping season.
“Black thrips is a major issue in chilli. Given the extraordinary climatic situation, the infestation has increased. We are introducing new chilli hybrid tolerant to the black thrips, hopefully in the coming season,” Shirish Barwale, Managing Director, Mahyco.
“The new hybrid is currently under multi-location trials right now. We will have the trial data by the end of April. If the trial data looks good, we will start demonstrating it in the coming season and launch it commercially,” Barwale added.
Over the last two cropping cycles, a surge in black thrips infestation has resulted in significant damage to commercial chilli crops in key producing States such as Andhra Pradesh, Telangana, and Karnataka. This infestation not only decreased productivity, but also increased costs as farmers were compelled to use additional agro-chemical sprays.
The invasive black thrips as found for the first-time feeding on papaya in 2015 in Karnataka and was reported in the chilli growing areas of Andhra Pradesh, Telangana and Karnataka for the first time in Rabi 2021-22. Black thrips feeds on the tender flowers of chilli, causing large-scale shedding of flowers, stunting and malformation of fruits and fruit drop leading to severe yield loss.
In absence of any effective biological and chemical controls, the pest had caused significant damage and yield loss and considerably reduced quality and income of chilli growers.
Mahyco is a dominant player in the hot chilli peppers seed market and has popular hybrids such as Teja, Tejaswini and Yashaswini among others. The new thrips tolerant hybrid will be in the same family of hot chilli peppers. Barwale said Mahyco has improved the speed of breeding using lab methods such as markers, double haploids and various tissue culture methods.
According to the industry sources, the chilli seed market in India is estimted to be over 150 tonnes per annum, of which the hybrid seed market is around 100 tonnes and the rest is open pollinated variety. The value of the chilli seed market is estimated to be around ₹400-500 crore, of which Mahyco has a share of around 20-30 per cent.
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