‘Black plague’ is decimating apple yield in Kashmir

Apple scab -venturia inaequalis- is a serious endemic disease of apples which attacks both leaves and the fruit. The fungal disease forms pale yellow or olive green spots on the upper surface of the leaves. Scabby spots on the fruit are sunken and tan coloured, and may have velvety spores in the centre.

Severely infected fruit becomes distorted and may fall from the tree early.

The condition of most of the orchards in South Kashmir’s Shopian, Kulgam, Anantnag and Pulwama, is more or less the same. “A large portion of apple fruit is scabbed this season,” an orchardist from Kulgam says. “My only source of livelihood has been dashed by this black plague.”

On an average, the government figures reveal, Kashmir exports 2 mln tonnes of apples every year to mainland India and, lately, to markets in the Middle East. Apples provide a major economic boost to J&K. But the pervasive black spot plague has today threatened the already lockdown-battered economy.

“The causes for the spread of this fungal disease are purely natural,” says Dr Nisar Ahmad, Head of Department, Plant Pathology, SKAUST, Shalimar. “Since scab is an endemic disease, resurfacing of the fungal pest is a norm under conducive environment. Spores of fungal mycelia breed well on leaf surfaces under moist conditions.”

Source: freepresskashmir.news


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