R. Vimal Kumar
`Fruit rot' disease hits crop; yield comes down
Tuticorin: Farmers are worried, since chilli production in the district has been affected by `fruit rot' disease, caused by a fungus named `Colletotrichum capsici,' on a large scale.
"Studies indicated that about 60 per cent of the 21,000 hectare covered under chilli was affected," according to V. Subramanian, chief scientist, Agricultural Research Station (ARS), Kovilpatti. The yield had come down by 20 per cent.
The disease was being transmitted through seed, air and contaminated water used for irrigation. "Morning dew accelerated the infection." He says that the fungus initially produces a small black-coloured circular spot on the skin of the fruits. The spot widens in the direction of long axis, becoming more or less elliptical in shape.
The infected pods turn pale white from red. The disease has reduced the level of pungency and the quality of fruit (i.e. chilli) affecting offtake.
The scientists are telling farmers to remove the diseased portion or the sick plants from the field.
"It will avoid spreading of the disease," they say.
T. Saravanan, plant pathologist, ARS, says the farmers should procure seeds obtained from spotless fruits. They should also treat the seeds with carbendazim at a ratio of two grams for every kg of seed.
Dr. Subramanian says, "chemicals like `wettable suplhur' (0.2 percent) or `copper oxychloride' (0.25 percent) should be sprayed on the plants soon after the symptoms of disease were noticed".
"Three sprayings at an interval of 15 days, starting from 60th day after flowering will effectively combat the disease,"