The University of Horticulture and Forestry, Nauni, has confirmed that cherry trees in the Baghi region in the upper Shimla were being infected by phytoplasma, which generally attacks stone fruits. Samples collected from the affected trees were tested in the laboratory. The presence of phytoplasma was confirmed through fluorescence microscopy; the spread of this pathogen is through the insect leaf hopper.
A week ago, cherry farmers from the Baghi region had apprised the university of an unknown disease due to which several cherry trees had dried out. The university had sent an expert team to inspect the trees. The university will organize awareness camps in September and October to apprise the farmers about the management and control the spread of the disease.
It is not the first time the disease has been detected in the state. Phytoplasma was had affected peach trees in Rajgarh of Sirmaur district two decades ago. A farmer from Rajgarh said: “Rajgarh was known as the peach bowl of Asia before phytoplasma came. The disease was like a slow poison. It destroyed a majority of the peach trees in the region.”