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`Destroy affected coconut trees'

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EXTENDING A HELPING HAND: Collector Rajesh Lakhoni offering financial assistance to a farmer at a seminar held in Theni on Wednesday. Coconut Development Board (TN region) Director K.V. Subramanian (extreme right) and Deputy Director Mathew Kutty loo k on.
EXTENDING A HELPING HAND: Collector Rajesh Lakhoni offering financial assistance to a farmer at a seminar held in Theni on Wednesday. Coconut Development Board (TN region) Director K.V. Subramanian (extreme right) and Deputy Director Mathew Kutty loo k on.

Staff Reporter

It is the only solution to root out root wilt disease, says Coconut Development Board Director

THENI: Integrated approach such as pest and nutrient management and adoption of appropriate cropping system were necessary to save coconut groves from root wilt disease, a non-lethal but debilitating malady that affected more than four lakh trees in Tamil Nadu. Theni was the worst affected district in the State, as the wilt had destroyed three lakh trees.

This was highlighted at a seminar on integrated management of root wilt disease in coconut organised by the Coconut Development Board (CDB) and Department of Agriculture here on Wednesday.

(Two such seminars were conducted in Coimbatore and Nagercoil.)

K.V. Subramanian, Director, CDB (TN region), said root wilt had hit coconut trees in nine districts in Kerala in varying severity and many districts in Tamil Nadu between Nilgiris and Kanyakumari along the Kerala-Tamil Nadu border.

Several lakhs of trees were affected in Kerala.

The disease was first detected in Nagercoil and later in Theni, Tirunelveli, Virudhunagar and Coimbatore districts endemic zones in Tamil Nadu.

Destruction of affected trees was the only solution to this problem and the board was offering a subsidy of Rs.250 a tree for removing affected trees, he said. "We cannot eradicate the wilt completely but can control it."

Uneconomical palms yielding less than 10 nuts a palm a year, deceased palms in pre-bearing stage and palms with advanced stage of disease should be removed.

Application of organic manure that improves soil physio-chemical and biological properties would enhance the yield. Growing green manure crop in the farm would act as a cover crop and conserve soil.

Farmers should use high yielding disease-free seedlings, he said.

Collector Rajesh Lakhoni said coconut had been grown on 13,497 hectares in the district. Area under coconut cultivation had been increased every year. Farmers should propagate control measures and officials should intensify the campaign against the disease.

Principal Scientist N. Srinivasan said leaf rot was a visible symptom of the disease. Leaf rot that would reduce photosynthetic area of leaves prevailed on 65 per cent of affected plants.

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