September 29, 2020

Storm, bug threat to litchis

Muzaffarpur/ Bettiah: Traditional growers of the Shahi variety of litchi, gauging the juicy flesh, have started plucking the fruits to make lucrative gains from sale of the product.

However, quality litchis are being mostly sent out to Lucknow, Kanpur and Delhi and other far-off destinations, apparently to fetch a high market price. Following the hailstorm that lashed on the night of May 13, the litchi crop has been damaged to a great extent.

“Fruits have fallen off the trees in the hailstorm and the farmers are apprehensive of a repeat hailstorm in near future. So, they have hurriedly decided to send the fruits to big cities to fetch a high price by plucking them from the orchards,” said Surendranath, the joint director of agriculture.

Director of National Research Centre for Litchi (NRCL), Muzaffarpur, Vishal Nath confirmed that the Shahi litchis are being plucked and being sold for Rs 180 per 100 fruits in the local market.

“Although the Shahi litchi is yet to attain full maturity, the growers are not in a mood to take risk, apprehending vagaries of nature. Almost five trucks of Shahi litchis are being sent to Lucknow, Kanpur and Delhi markets daily from May 15 through buyers of litchi orchards mostly belong outside the Delhi and Haryana,” said Bholanath Jha, a litchi grower.

“Cloudy weather and the easterly wind blowing here has delayed its ripening. Generally, litchi fruits get their characteristic pinkish skin colour owing to heat and high temperature,” said the NRCL director.

Meanwhile, NRCL has identified the mysterious-looking insect that struck the litchi belt in East Champaran’s Mehsi area as a sting bug belonging to the Tesertoma Javanika species.

“The insect was certainly unknown and unheard of in Bihar. Though they are conspicuous by their presence in Jharkhand, where Kusum is their host plant. So we reckon that the insects have migrated from Jharkhand,” said NRCL director Vishal Nath.

“Its impact has been seen on litchis. But the possibility of its scourge on mangoes and other plants cannot be ruled out. This insect can ravage the fruit completely, depending upon the stage and size if action is not taken immediately,” said the director.

A team of scientists made an on-the-spot investigation on Wednesday and prescribed immediate spraying of Trizophos (1.5ml), followed by Lemda Xylocine (.5 ml) to prevent the further scourge.

“The insect is also known for developing its immunity fast to medicines too. We needed to keep a close tab on this. It’s high time when peasants should take precautionary measures in March, which is breeding time for insects,” said Vishal Nath.

Courtesy: The Telegraph

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