Whitefly pest has again attacked the cotton crop in Punjab, posing a threat to the Kharif crop. A few pockets of Fazilka, Mansa and Bathinda districts are facing Whitefly menace. In view of this Ministry of Agriculture & Farmers Welfare is sending a team to Punjab which would visit areas where cotton crops have been affected by Whitefly.
Ministry of Agriculture & Farmers Welfare has constituted a five member team under Chairmanship of Dr SN Sushil, Plant Protection Advisor, Directorate of Plant Protection, Quarantine & Storage(DPPQ & S), Faridabad to visit affected areas within two days. After visit, team will make an assessment and will submit the report thereon.
According to media reports from Punjab, the attack of whitefly on cotton crop, which is now in the flowering stage, is visible in about 15 villages of Khuian Sarwar block of Abohar in Fazilka district.
"Whitefly has attacked cotton crop in several fields of about 15 villages of Khuian Sarwar block in Abohar," an official of Punjab Agriculture department said today.
With farm experts trying their best to prevent any damage to crop, growers have been advised to spray recommended chemicals to save the crop from whitefly which attacks cotton leaves.
"As the economic threshold limit in the current whitefly attack is more the six per leaf, farmers have been asked to spray recommended chemicals to kill the pest," the official said, adding the stage of using ‘neem-based bio-pesticides’ is over and it was necessary to use chemical based insecticides.
The state agriculture department officials are giving demonstrations and advisory on what kind of insecticides to be used on cotton field to save crop. Last year, Whitefly had caused widespread damage to Bt cotton varieties in Punjab and Haryana.
In Punjab, 1.36 lakh hectares out of total 4.50 lakh hectares of cotton acreage was ravaged by whitefly attack last season and the output had dropped by 40 per cent due to large scale pest attack. This time the whitefly attack was spotted on cotton crop which was planted near orchards in Abohar which is known for Kinnow fruit.
Because of fear of Whitefly attack, cotton area in Punjab saw one of the biggest decline in current season as crop area under this Kharif crop shrunk to 2.56 lakh hectares as against 4.50 lakh hectares last season.