DINDIGUL: Rapid growth of a strange weed in sugarcane fields has been destroying the standing crops in a large scale in Kannivadi and Sri Ramapuram areas in the district.
With white flowers, one-foot high unknown species that grows around the base of sugarcane crop sucks the greenness in the leaves and spreads rapidly. Within days, leaves of sugarcane turn brown and dry up later. Neither application of weedicide nor removal of the plant was helpful to the farmers in controlling it. The strange plant grows under the 60-day-old crop only and destruction happens within 45 days.
Standing sugarcane crop in Sankaralingapuram, Sri Ramapuram, Kombai and Pannaipatti in Reddiyarchatram union were the worst-hit. With no options left, several farmers had destroyed the sugarcane crop and left their affected field idle. If this trend continued, areas under sugarcane cultivation would shrink sharply.
Farmers had been facing this problem for the past five years. The irony was that no officials of the agriculture department visited these villages till date. All their appeals were ignored by the officials.
“We can neither leave the strange plant in the field nor pluck it. Both expedite the destruction. Removal of one plant even with its roots only scales up its proliferation. Ten plants grow around every stem in a short period,” said T. Subramanian, who had raised sugarcane in six acres at Sankaralingapuram. The cane grown in the weed-affected area had no juice and was unfit for crushing and making jaggery. Even continuous chemical spray did not help, he added. Farmers had already knocked the doors of Sugarcane Research Institutes and Horticulture College and Research Institute, Periakulam for help and brought experienced cane growers from Dharmapuri and Erode districts. Nothing had changed the situation. Even organic farming experts' visit too was not helpful, said R. Palanisamy, another cane grower in Kariya Gounenpudhur. Cane growers in Dharmapuri and Erode districts, too had similar problems.
Another farmer K. Mayilsamy had raised beet root in his affected field. But the yield was less.