In all the mandalas of Kurnool, Anantapur and parts of Kadapa, a phenomenon has been found where the leaves turn brown and fall, looking like they have been burned.
This has worried farmers who are growing it on a commercial scale to extract multiple parts of the tree for different needs. When contacting us, the chief scientist (entomologist) P. Radhika from the agricultural research station Rekulakunta informed the Hindu that it was an infestation with “tea mosquitoes” (Helopeltis antonii), which was reported from several regions in the four Rayalaseema districts.
“The bug also affected the neem trees on the ARS Rekulakunta farm. If the rate of infestation is high, it will kill the tree, ”said Ms. Radhika. The current situation, she said, was not a very serious one, but it would look very troubling to an ordinary man, as the tree’s usual leaf-shedding time was February-March and flowering also begins around this time in the southern states and is delayed until April -May as we head north towards the Himalayas.
In South India, the fruits ripen from June to August and the tree begins to bear fruit by the age of five, but the economic yield of the fruit is achieved by the age of 10 to 12 years. Approximately 3,300-4,500 seeds weigh one kg and a medium-sized tree produces an average of 37-55 kg of fruit on a farm.
The bug affects cashews on a large scale in Kerala, Karnataka, Goa, Maharashtra, Tamil Nadu and Andhra Pradesh, and besides neem, it also affects grapevines, guavas, cashews, mahogany, cocoa, cinchona, pepper, tamarind, cinnamon and apple, she explained.
Regarding pest control, she advises farmers to collect the damaged plant parts and destroy them. Spray insecticides like Profenofos, a 50% emulsifiable concentrate 2 ml, Thiamethoxam 25 WG 0.2 g, Dimethoate 2 ml per liter of water. Spray should be done on trunks, twigs, foliage, and inflorescence early in the morning or late at night for effective control, she adds.
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