South Kashmir Apple Growers Worried Over Leaf Miner Pest


SRINAGAR: Apple growers in several areas of south Kashmir are increasingly concerned as a leaf miner pest continues to infect their orchards for the fourth consecutive year.

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The farmers said that the pest has wreaked havoc in their orchards over the past three years. “Wherever the pest was found in the last three years, the produce was less shiny and smaller in size, as this insect sucks all the nutrients from the trees,” they said.

Zahoor Ahmad, a fruit grower from the Dachnipora area of Anantnag, described how the pest lays web layers from one branch to another, even reaching the trunk and fruit. “This pest, numbering in millions, is sucking all nutrients from the tree, causing the fruit to remain small. It damages leaves and trees as well,” he said, adding that visitors to the pest-affected orchards have complained of allergies and other issues with their throats and nose.

Initially found in Shopian’s Zainapora, the pest has spread to Zainapora, Litter, Watchi, Yaripora, Lassipora, Tahab and Bijbehara areas over the years. This season, orchardists from various parts of south Kashmir have raised alarms about the pest, despite following horticulture advisories to combat it.

The growers have called for urgent attention from the horticulture department and experts to prevent further damage. “Even after spraying insecticides several times every year, these pests keep reappearing,” they said, adding that the affected orchards have reported premature fruit fall, along with reduced fruit quality and size.

Senior scientists from Sher-e-Kashmir University of Agriculture Science and Technology-Kashmir (SKUAST-K) have identified the pest as a “leaf miner” – an invasive insect that likely arrived four or five years ago. They said that while leaf miners were reported some time ago, their presence has significantly increased in the past two years. Despite this, the pest is manageable if growers consistently follow advisories, they added.

The horticulture department has called for a collective approach to managing the pest and advised spraying insecticides across all affected orchards to prevent any residual population from serving as a source of infestation the following year.

Recommendations for farmers include installing sticky traps 10 meters apart for monitoring and surveillance of the apple leaf blotch miner (ALBM), maintaining proper sanitation practices within and around the orchards, and installing pheromone-baited traps at a density of 8-10 traps per hectare. They should spray one of the following insecticides at the recommended dosage: Thiamethoxam 25 WG (50g per 100 litres of water), Flubendiamide 39.35 SC (40ml per 100 litres of water), Chlorantraniliprole 18.5 SC (100ml per 100 litres of water), Thiacloprid 21.7 SC (60ml per 100 litres of water), Lambda Cyhalothrin 5 EC (50ml per 100 litres of water), Pre-mix formulation of Thiamethoxam 12.6 + Lambda Cyhalothrin 9.5 ZC (50ml per 100 litres of water), and pre-mix formulation of Imidacloprid 6 + Lambda Cyhalothrin 4 SL (50ml per 100 litres of water).

The department has advised farmers not to mix insecticides with any other plant protection chemicals or plant nutrients.(KNO)



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