Insects have infested high-yielding Bt cotton varieties sown early in southern Punjab because of ongoing spell of heavy rains and humidity, say agricultural experts.
They said the rainfall had caused an increase in the number of sucking pests while growers were facing difficulties in application of insecticides due to the inclement weather.
The experts said they had observed attacks of mealybug in several areas of Multan, Khanewal, Bahawalnagar, Sahiwal, Muzaffargarh, Jhang, Toba Tek Singh and Faisalabad. They asked the growers to save the crop by scouting for insects every week, which would minimise the damage to the standing crop.
Pest Warning and Quality Control director general asked the agricultural department’s field staff to monitor the pest population in their respective areas and provide guidelines and assistance to the cotton growers to protect the crop from insects like whitefly, jassid, thrips and mites.
The growers should also be guided about timely spray of pesticides to reduce the infestation, he said, adding the field staff should ensure free of charge availability of quality pesticides for the farmers.
In spite of the pest attack, the experts expressed hope that the country would produce more than 15 million bales of cotton during the current season. Citing the reason, they said high prices of cotton in international markets had encouraged growers to cultivate the crop on a large area estimated at 8.5 million acres.
Published in The Express Tribune, July 3rd, 2011.