The Bt cotton crop standing on 13,000 hectares of land at several villages of Perambalur district has been affected by three distinct diseases, causing anxiety among farmers.

A team of scientists from the Tamil Nadu Agricultural University Anbil Dharmalingam Agricultural College and Research Institute, Tiruchi, along with officials of the Agriculture Department inspected the cotton fields in various villages on Monday and evolved a strategy for saving the standing crop.

Perambalur is the leading cotton-producing district in the State and cotton crop had been raised on over 31,000 hectares of land during this Aadi pattam, coinciding with August. Sudden withering of the crop was caused by fungal disease, leaf hopper, and micro nutrient deficiency, particularly deficiency in magnesium, and the expert team noticed during Monday’s visit. The yield is likely to be affected between 10 and 50 per cent. Timely intervention could save the crop to a great extent, they told farmers. Sudden rainfall, a prolonged lull in the rainfall, and uneven distribution of showers, have all contributed to current crisis. To the experts surprise, the crop raised in September was free from any attack, as flowing was yet to commence in these fields. Although Bt cotton was expected to prevent any disease, scientists say that leaf hopper and magnesium deficiency were inevitable.

The team suggested application of 200 ml of either Hexa cona zole or Proti cona zone per acre.

To tackle leaf hopper, it recommended application of 50 ml of Imidacloprid per acre or Fipronil 80 per cent water disposable granule 20 gram per acre. To tide over magnesium deficiency, the team suggested application of a mixture of five grams of magnesium sulphate and 10 grams of urea per litre.

The team was led by Kanagasabai, Joint Director of Agriculture in-charge, and comprised G. Gajendran, professor and head, Department of Plant Protection, D. Dinakaran, professor, Plant Pathology, T. Anandan, assistant professor, Plant Pathology, all from ADAC and RI, and R. Kavimani, professor and head of Cotton Research Station, Veppanthattai.

The issue cropped up at the farmers’ grievances day meeting held on Thursday, when Raja Chidambaram, state secretary of the Tamizhaga Vivasayigal Sangam, drew the attention of the district administration to the plight of cotton farmers.

He said that the farmers had incurred a huge expenditure of about Rs. 40,000 an acre and the phenomenon of the diseases was peculiar to them. He demanded adequate compensation to the affected farmers.