Thanjavur farmers stare at loss as yellow virus hits black gram fields

Some farmers have started ploughing back the standing black gram crop to start kuruvai cultivation as they did not expect the yield to compensate even harvest expenditure.
Farmers have cultivated black gram in around 2,750 hectares in the district
Farmers have cultivated black gram in around 2,750 hectares in the district(Photo | Express)

THANJAVUR: Black gram farmers in the district are staring at a heavy loss as yield is expected to be next to nothing due to the attack of the Yellow Mosaic Virus (YMV). Usually, farmers sow the black gram seeds in the traditional month of Chithirai (April-May) and harvest during the month of Aadi (July-August). “In the current Chithirai pattam, farmers have cultivated black gram in around 2,750 hectares,” an official of the Agriculture and Farmers Welfare Department told TNIE.

However widespread yellow virus attack on the crop left the farmers wondering about the quantum of yield. Some farmers have started ploughing back the standing black gram crop to start kuruvai cultivation as they did not expect the yield to compensate even harvest expenditure.

K Santhanam, a farmer from Umbalapadi village who cultivated black gram on six acres, said, “Around 60% of crops were affected by the yellow virus and in the remaining 40%, the number of grains per plant is deficient. Normally there would be 120 grains in a plant but now in some plants, the number is as low as four.”

So, he ploughed back the black gram crop and prepared for kuruvai paddy. “I have spent Rs 80,000 to cultivate the black gram and if I had gone to harvest, I would not have recovered even the harvest expenses,” he added. R Sukumaran of Kakkarai, who cultivated black gram on two acres, said that usually, the yellow virus attack will only affect 10% of the crops.

“However, during this season, 70% of the crops were attacked by the virus,” he added. Agriculture department officials also acknowledge the widespread attack and said the yield would plummet to more than 50% when there is a good market price of Rs 100 per kg. The agriculture scientists are saying the widespread attack was due to scorching heat wave conditions prevailing during May and subsequent climate variations, an official said.

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