NAGAPATTINAM: It appears like farmers would not get respite from nature’s vagaries as the agriculture department has warned that paddy crop inundated by rain during cyclone Burevi are likely to be affected by Grain Discoloration Disease (Nel Manigal Niram Maarum Noi).
About 80,000 hectares out of the total 1,33,000 hectares of paddy crop in Nagapattinam district are inundated, according to official figures. Though water is receding, crops in milky stage and panicle initiation stage are highly vulnerable to Grain Discoloration Disease which could affect yield by 10 to 30 per cent, “ said P Kalyanasundaram, joint director of the agriculture department.
Officials state that much younger Thaladi crops which were completely inundated are more vulnerable than the older Samba crop which were partially inundated. Also, other infections such as Smut Ball Disease (‘Nel Pazham’), Rice Blast (‘Kulai’) and Bacterial Leaf Blight (‘Ilai Karugal’) were highly likely to affect crop.
“Farmers can apply the fungicide such as Pseudomonas or Carbendazim, mixed with water, to control the infection. They are available in our centres and private shops,” said S Panneerselvam, the deputy director of the agriculture department.
Grain Discoloration Disease?
It is a fungal disease which infects paddy in highly humid conditions after a heavy rainfall or heavy dew. The paddy crops can turn black or pale. “The spores are airborne. They can spread from one field to another. Grains will become futile in affected crops. The grains from infected crops could result in reduced quality if they are used as seed inputs in recultivation as well,” cautioned Dr V Kannan, an agronomist from ICAR-Krishi Vigyan Kendra.
Farmers have requested the district administration to spread message about the disease by conducting campaigns. “The agriculture department must ensure the adequate stock of biocontrol agents, fungicides and fertilisers which are required to save and revive the crop, in the agricultural extension centres and agricultural institutes. Private shops could increase prices by capitalising on demand. All the required items should be subsidised to help the farmers in distress,” said S Sridhar, a farmer in Keezhaiyur.