ISLAMABAD: The main reason for repeated attacks of cotton leaf curl virus (CLCV) on farms in Pakistan is lack of implementation of crop zone management laws, leading to a gradual increase in intensity of virus attack on the cotton crop, says a leading cotton ginner.
In a press release, Pakistan Cotton Ginners Association (PCGA) Executive Member Ihsanul Haq blamed the spread of sugar mills in the cotton belt for frequent virus attacks.
He recalled that nearly 15 years ago the Punjab government had declared the districts from Rahim Yar Khan to Mian Channu as cotton zone and discouraged establishment of new sugar mills or capacity enhancement of existing mills there in a bid to avoid humidity buildup, which could damage the cotton crop.
However, he said, the setting up of new sugar mills and doubling of capacity of running mills continued on political considerations, which brought an extended area under sugarcane crop and increased humidity in adjacent localities, creating a favourable environment for virus attack on cotton crop.
“If the present trend continues, then heavy attack of virus on cotton may result in severe yield losses,” he warned.
According to Haq, among all cotton-producing countries of the world, virus attack occurs only in Pakistan and the adjacent Indian Punjab. Other countries have controlled the virus with better management practices.
This year, the International Centre for Agriculture in Dry Areas has provided seeds for 1,385 cotton varieties to Pakistan for screening traces, if any, of cotton leaf curl virus at Multan and Sakrand cotton research institutes of the Pakistan Central Cotton Committee (PCCC).
However, so far less than 400 seeds have been found free of cotton virus and among them less than 20 are said to be of acceptable agronomic value.
“Without following proper crop zoning for cotton, the virus attack can’t be controlled,” Haq said. The areas free from sugarcane crop like Cholistan are seldom attacked by the virus.
Farmers have been advised that in case of virus attack, they should spray potassium nitrate (1kg per acre) in combination with Vitamin C (2,000mg per acre) and growth-regulating hormone twice or thrice to save the crop.
Published in The Express Tribune, September 7th, 2012.
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