Blossom blight afflicts hybrid mango variety

CHITRADURGA MARCH 30. Blossom blight has afflicted the mango variety, Arka Punit or Hybrid-13, in Chitradurga District, and the trees did not bear fruit this year.

A progressive farmer introduced Hybrid-13 in the district in 1995. Supposed to yield fruits in four years, the variety has been developed by the Indian Institute for Horticulture Research by grafting Ratnagiri Alphonso variety with Banganapalli or Benishan variety to overcome spongi tissue (dead tissue) defect in mangoes. The Alphonso variety bears fruit only in alternate years. Hybrid-13 does not have this problem.

According to agriculture scientists, blossom blight is caused by fungal pathogens such as collatotrichum, alternaria, and pestalotia.

Seetarma Reddy, President, Progressive Farmers' Forum, Chitradurga, said that the disease affected the spikes of the trees. Although the spikes were full of flowers, they did not bear fruit, he added.

Farmers had been waiting for six years to get a good yield from the trees. After 1998, the trees bore fruits, but the harvest could not be considered good. This year, the trees did not bear fruit.

Following this, Mr. Reddy wrote to the Director of IIHR, requesting him to send a team of scientists here to study the problem. In pursuance of this, a team visited some mango orchards early this week.

The team members included R.D. Rawal, Head, Department of Plant Pathology, Y.T.N. Reddy, Principal Scientist, Fruit Crop Division, R.H. Laxman, scientist, Plant Physiology and Biochemistry Division, and Kamala Jayant from the Entomology Division. The team is expected to give its report soon.

According to the forum, blossom blight has affected the variety grown on about 400 acres of land in the district. Mango is cultivated in the district in about 1,000 acres of land. The disease has not affected mango varieties such as totapuri, Hybrid-17, and Alphonso. Compared to last year, the overall mango production in the district is said to be below average.

Mr. Reddy said he had learnt that Anantappa, a progressive farmer near Bangalore, who had received national awards 10 times for mango cultivation, had grafted Alphonso variety with Hybrid-13 after cutting the tree at a certain height. The new variety yielded fruits two years after grafting.

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