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India: Apple growers Kashmir troubled as scab engulfs their orchards

Thousands of apple growers in Kashmir are worried as scab and other related infections have engulfed their orchards. Experts have stated that wet weather, delayed sprays and sub-standard fungicides are the main reasons behind this.

The infection has affected most of the apple orchards in north, south and central Kashmir, leaving thousands of growers distressed and worried about their crop.

Dr. Zahoor Ahmad, who is a professor at Division of Plant Pathology, Sheri-e-Kashmir Institute of Agricultural Sciences (SKAUST) Kashmir, said that most of the apple growers in valley missed ‘green tip’ spray due to wet weather conditions and coronavirus lockdown.

“Apart from that most of the farmers missed another sprays schedules that are very crucial. Even some growers used fungicides on their own choice and not followed advisories from the department,” he said.

Pampori said sub-standard fungicides can also lead to scab and other related diseases, but most of the cases that we witnessed, had missed their spraying schedules.

“People should follow spray schedules and follow strictly advisories from the department to combat these diseases,” he said.

Kashmir’s biggest economy, the Rs80 billion apple industry, produces 2.2 mln tons of apples each year, which is over 70 percent of the country's total production.

A senior scientist at SKAUST-K wishing anonymity told Rising Kashmir that sub-standard fungicides play a vital role in spreading scab infection. “Horticulture the backbone of the economy in J&K and the government should act against substandard fungicide dealers. They should be tested before arriving in the market,” he said.

Apart from sub-standard fungicides, he said continuous rains, missing of spraying schedules and timings hit orchards badly.

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