Scientists report high incidence of bollworms, poor yield
“Crop is at flowering to boll formation stage, grown in black cotton soil. Profuse vegetative growth to the height of above six feet due to sufficient rainfall and application of N-fertilizer was observed. Farmer did not apply K-fertilizer. According to farmers, proper plant protection measures were taken against sucking pests. Somehow incidence of pink bollworm was noticed below Economic Threshold Levels (ETL). Though vegetative growth of the crops was normal, number of bolls per plant on an average was very low, 10 to 15 only, which will affect the final output. Hence, the concerned seed company personnel can be called for explanation about the crop performance,” was the report submitted by A. Srinivas, coordinator, DAATTC after visiting the field of one Narayana of Allapur village in Munipally mandal on November 9, 2017.
Narayana had cultivated Ajeeth seeds in two acres and sowing took place in the first week of June, 2017. This is only an instance of the disastrous picture of cotton crop that became evident in the beginning of this year and which has resulted in the suicide of at least six farmers. In January, 2018, B. Ram Prasad, Senior Scientist, Cotton Entomology, Regional Agriculture Research Station (RARS), Warangal and V Bharathi, Principal Scientist, Pathology, Seed Regulation Testing Cell (SRTC), visited fields of six farmers in Kondapur, Munipally and Sadashivapet mandals and studied the performance of cotton crop.
In almost every field they found that the yield reduction was between 25 per cent and 60 per cent as there was less number of bolls due to the poor performance of hybrid seeds. “It is observed that primarily, the crop growth is luxuriant in all fields because of heavy seasonal rains followed by high temperature, closer plant spacing and high fertilization. The team could not compare these hybrids with other similar hybrids/fields as they did not exist in the near vicinity to check their performance. Further, incidence of pink bollwarm is also another reason for apparent yield loss,” observed the scientists.
However, the DNA reports of four out of the five samples collected by the authorities confirmed the prescribed minimum genetic purity standard of 90 per cent for cotton. Only one report was adverse.
Report of another sample was yet to be received by the officials. “ The weather conditions were playing havoc in the lives of farmers. Four out of the five DNA reports showing the genetic purity indicate this. Farmers were failing to sow non-BT seed supplied along with BT, which will act as ‘refuge’. This was one of the reasons pink bollworms are becoming pesticide resistant,” observed an agriculture officer.