Coconut trees turn timber in Mandya

1.37 lakh coconut trees affected following deadly pest attack

For several weeks now, the sawmills along major roads in Mandya district have been working under a heavy workload, with the continuous arrival of coconut trees that have been infested with Rugose spiralling whitefly and black-headed caterpillar.

The trees, once laden with coconuts, have been struck by the two most dreaded pests. Whilst the black-headed caterpillar had been haunting the coconut groves for several weeks, the Rugose spiralling whitefly has been slowly spreading in the last few weeks. Further, prevailing drought and heat wave are also having an impact on the trees.

Trees, especially in Maddur taluk and areas near Malavalli, are bearing the brunt, forcing growers to axe them for timber.

The total coconut cultivation in Mandya district is 60,549 hectares and the average annual production is around 1,48,251 tonnes. Of the cultivated area, around 92,500 trees on 925 hectares have been affected due to black-headed caterpillars, V.N. Ashwini, Assistant Director, Department of Horticulture, told The Hindu here.

As many as 44,919 trees have withered across the district and the department has decided to issue compensation of ₹400 for each damaged tree.

The pest-affected trees have a burnt look, L. Vijaykumar, of the Department of Entomology, UAS-Bengaluru, told The Hindu. “The severity of the attacks will aggravate in summer, but the pest population would come down in the monsoon. The National Bureau of Agricultural Insect Resources (NBAIR) has released parasitoids in parts of Ramanagaram and Mandya districts to tackle the pests,” he said.

The department is chalking out plans to conduct awareness programmes for growers in Maddur, Ms. Ashwini said.

Growers are advised to consult scientists/horticultural experts before using insecticides. Affected growers can call 08232-277211 for guidance on tackling the pests.

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Printable version | Feb 18, 2020 11:54:08 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/karnataka/coconut-trees-turn-timber-in-mandya/article26231562.ece

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