Punjab - India

Late blight disease affects 10% potato crop in regions Jalandhar, Hoshiarpur

The extreme cold of the past few weeks has adversely affected crops in the state of Punjab. After it detected signs of late blight in potato in Jalandhar and Hoshiarpur, the agriculture department has issued an advisory to farmers in the region to save the remaining crop.

The crop would have been ready for the market in February, but farmers say that about 20% of the crop is affected by the disease in the region, which is a major producer of potatoes in the state.

Interestingly, signs of late blight in potato were noticed in those fields where farmers utilised the stubble instead of burning it, said an agriculture officer. Yugraj Singh, a potato grower in Jalandhar, said most farmers are now a worried lot. He said most of his crop has been affected by the disease and the infection occurred mostly where he decomposed the stubble in his field.

“Weather conditions in the past few weeks were conducive for the attack of this disease, which if not checked, can spread quickly. It may affect crop yield even more in the coming days. High moisture content due to the cold led to the infection, while stubble buried in the field added to the cause,” said the deputy director horticulture department, Naresh Kumar. He added that potato has been sown on about 1 lakh hectare—24,000 hectare in Jalandhar and 15, 000 hectare in Hoshiarpur in the state. And as of now, more than 10% of the crop has been affected in the region, he said.

The first symptoms of late blight appear as small, light to dark green, circular or irregular-shaped water-soaked marks, after which these lesions expand rapidly into large, dark brown or black lesions.

According to hindustantimes.com¸ the Punjab Agricultural University (PAU) has also sounded an alert in the state and has asked farmers to take measure to control this disease. The disease is caused by water-mould Phytophthora infestans and it is quite common in humid regions with low temperatures, while hot and dry weather checks its spread.

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