Dieback disease hits nutmeg trees

The Krishi Vigyan Kendra (KVK), Thrissur, has reported increased spread of dieback disease in nutmeg trees in Thrissur and Ernakulam districts.

A team of experts constituted by the KVK is visiting fields, collecting samples and prescribing remedies.

The expert team include KAU scientists S. Estelitta, A. Suma, P. Prameela and Seeja Thomachan Panjikkaran and officials of the Department of Agriculture.

The disease, caused by the fungus Colletotrichum gloeosporiodes, may spread more, if control measures are not taken on time, warn experts.

The chief symptom of the disease is drying of nutmeg branches from top to bottom. Dry spots on the leaves, leaf fall and nut fall will follow. Heavy rainfall, lack of drainage in fields and inadequate space between plants aggravate the condition. Experts suggest that disease-infected branches and leaves should be removed and buried in the soil. Drainage in the fields should be improved. Lime should be added to the soil. After a week of taking such remedies, tree basins should be drenched in the fungicide Copper oxychloride at the rate of 3 gm in 1 litre of water with 200 mg streptocycline. A tree needs 3 litres of this solution.

To prevent spread of the disease, lime and Pseudomonas flourescens, mixed with dry cow dung or sand, should be used in the soil.

Foliar spray of Pseudomonas at the rate of 20 g per litre of water too may prevent outbreak of the disease. For details, scientists may be contacted at 0487-2375855or 9995086642.

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