Agricultural scientists warn of rapid spread of root wilt disease in Tamil Nadu coconut farms

Referred to as Kerala wilt disease, RWD, caused by phytoplasma, is one of the most devastating diseases affecting coconut trees
For representational purpose
For representational purpose

THOOTHUKUDI: As root wilt disease (RWD) continues to spread rapidly amongst coconut trees in the districts bordering Kerala, agriculture officials and agricultural scientists of Killikulam Agricultural College and Research Institute (AC&RI) appealed to coconut farmers to keep vigil.

A team of agricultural scientists and officials who inspected various regions of the southern districts said that the coconut farms in Tirunelveli district have been showing the first stages of the disease — leaf yellowing and leaf drying — and cautioned the farmers of other districts, including neighbouring Thoothukudi, to remain alert.

Referred to as Kerala wilt disease, RWD, caused by phytoplasma, is one of the most devastating diseases affecting coconut trees, and was first reported at Kottayam in Kerala during the aftermath of the great floods of 1882. Professor Richard Kennedy of Killikulam AC&RI said, “RWD symptoms include yellowing and drying of leaves, skeletonising, yield reduction and rotting of the terminal portion of the tree.”

To prevent the spread of RWD, Kennedy advised farmers to clean the interspace between trees and keep the farm weed-free. Cultivation of intercrops and cover crops may also prove to be helpful. Farmers can also form a basin around the trunk of the tree, and green leaf manure crops can be grown after the onset of the monsoon, he said.

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