Tamil Nadu: Mango farmers fear crop loss due to hopper infestation

Hopper is a serious pest of mango that drains the sap of tender parts, eventually leading to damage of inflorescence (flowers) fruit drop, wilting or death of tissues.
Image used for representation.
Image used for representation.

DHARMAPURI: Several mango orchards in Karimangalam in Dharmapuri district have been infested by hopper pests. While horticulture officials have prescribed pesticides to tackle the infestation, farmers feel that production could be affected in the upcoming season.

Karimangalam has a dense mango orchard encompassing an area of over 2,500 acres. Farmers in the vicinity cultivate over 30 types of mangoes and export the mango pulp produced at the local farms. However, recently farmers observed that flowers had been wilting and falling off, and unripe mangos have also started to rot. An investigation found that mango hoppers were the cause.  

Hopper is a serious pest of mango that drains the sap of tender parts, eventually leading to damage of inflorescence (flowers) fruit drop, wilting or death of tissues. Hoppers often appear in February when mango trees commence flowering. Hopper infestation accounts for major crop loss.  
Speaking to TNIE, farmer K Murugesan from Karimangalam, said, “Over the years mango cultivation has become extremely tedious. Untimely or poor rains and now pest attacks have taken a toll. Managing a plantation is becoming extremely difficult. Further with increasing pest problems, it is almost impossible to protect the trees. The pests usually drain the nutrients from the trees and affect the unripe mangoes. We expect about 10% loss  due to the drought and pest attack just as the mango season is set to commence.”

Another farmer R Muniraj from Palacode said, “The hopper insect spreads fast in an orchard. Usually they secrete a sap that hinders photosynthesis, leading to the wilting of the leaf or branch. If left unchecked it could potentially destroy an entire field. This coupled with the heatwave is causing massive damages to orchards and could cause losses for farmers.”

However, Deputy Director of Horticulture Fathima said, “We had only observed minor pockets of infestation and there is no cause for concern. Farmers need not be alarmed. We have also conducted awareness drives in infested areas and alerted farmers. We have also prescribed the necessary methods and chemicals to tackle hoppers. We are closely monitoring the situation. The infestation is only in a few farms.” 

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