Agri Business

White grub infestation spreads to sugarcane crop in Pune

Rahul Wadke Mumbai | Updated on September 07, 2020

White grub, a voracious agriculture pest, after wreaking havoc in the Vidarbha and Marathwada regions of Maharashtra has also affected about 3,000 acres of sugarcane crop in the Pune district.

White grub (Holotrichia serrata) insect larvae, which in local parlance is called humeni, has resurfaced in the Pune district. The pests eat at the roots of sugarcane, decreasing the moisture and nutrient supply to the plant. This leads to the yellowing and wilting of leaves and causes extensive damage to the base of the shoot, leading to the dislodgement of the cane in the field.

Rutuja More, Agriculture Scientist and Technical Director at the Gujarat-based Institute of Soil and Plant Health, said that in the Pune district — especially around the sugarcane belt of the Daund, Indapur and Baramati talukas — infestation is high. Rapid measures are needed to be taken by the farmers for controlling the spread. In the talukas, six large sugar mills have reported the problems, she said.

Bajirao Sutar, MD of Karmayogi Shankarraoji Patil sugar factory in Indapur, said that the surveys of the sugarcane fields are underway to assess the actual damage to the crop. Work will commence to reduce the damage, he said.

Effectivity of pesticides

Agriculture expert Milind Damle said that although several chemical pesticides are available in the market for controlling the white grub infestation, the farmers don’t use the right kind of water for pest management. Water with a higher PH value gets added to the pesticide, leading to a rapid deterioration in the quality of the pesticide. In effect, the agrochemical becomes benign.

In Maharashtra, the water is alkaline with a pH value of 8, but for effective use, the PH value should be 6, for which citric acid needs to be added to the water. When water with the wrong pH gets used, the pesticides get wasted and pests flourish, he said.

Pramod Magar, An entomologist at Krishi Vigyan Kendra (KVK) in Yavatmal district, said that the area of white grub in Maharashtra is increasing. Earlier, it was only attacking sugarcane and groundnut crops; now it also devours soybean, cotton and turmeric crops. Climate change is affecting the life cycle of insects, he said.

The KVK is the farm science arm established by ICAR for Yavatmal district under Dr. PanjabraoDeshmukh Krishi Vidyapeeth, Akola.

Published on September 07, 2020

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