Although Pink Bollworm (PBW) infestation has been reported in crops across the cotton growing states, it has not crossed the economic threshold limits (ETL), top officials at the Indian Council of Agricultural Research – Central Institute for Cotton Research (CICR), Nagpur, said.
The ETL is the pest population at which control measures need to be initiated to prevent economic loss. For PBW, it is breached if 8-10 moths are trapped per pheromone trap for three consecutive nights. The cotton acreage across the country this kharif season touched 124 lakh hectare, similar to the previous season due to good monsoons.
VN Waghmare, acting director, CICR, said a review meeting was held with eight cotton growing states to take stock of the crop situation and discuss the Integrated Resistance Management. “PBW has appeared in some parts of Maharashtra in Nanded, Parbhani, Vidarbha and Khandesh and parts of Punjab and Telangana and even Gujarat to some extent. However, the extent of infestation has dropped since the last season and some 10-15% of the crop may be infested in areas where farmers ignored advisories and opted for early planting,” he said.
Deepak Nagrale, principal scientist of the research institute, said a disease similar to PBW, called Boll Rot, has also made an appearance in some parts of Yavatmal in Maharashtra and the spread of the disease is currently scattered. Boll Rot is a disease in which the cotton boll rots first and then the PBW develops inside the boll and eats the fibre inside.
Waghmare said the institute has collected samples from Haryana, Karnataka, Maharashtra and Gujarat for field studies. Manish Daga of CottonGuru, a cotton farm advisory service for farmers, had also identified Boll Rot in Maharashtra and Gujarat last year.
Daga said while the PBW infestation has not yet crossed ETL levels, a clearer picture should emerge when rains stop. At present, farmers are not able to go to their fields because of water retention. Once they visit their fields, the extent of the damage to the crops will be known. While farmers in Gujarat opted to sow groundnuts to break the chain of PBW infestation, in Maharashtra, the practices are not uniform and no holistic approach has been followed, Daga said.