Whiteflies plaguing horticultural crops in the state

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Farmers fear a decline in yield; Steps are being taken to control the spread using biopesticides

Invasive Rugose Spiraling Whitefly (RSW) appears to be showing its presence in the state, with its incidence being reported in various districts.

According to information, a high incidence (more than 30 IUDs for leaflets) is reported in East and West Godavari and Nellore districts.

The RSW has invaded crops such as coconut, oil palm, cocoa, banana, curry leaf, jackfruit, papaya, yam, and mango.

It has also invaded ornamental plants such as bird of paradise, fishtail palm, spider lily, areca palm, cabbage tree, rose apple, and heliconia.

The whitefly has devoured the palm oil and coconut plantations in the East and West Godavari, Srikakulam, Vizianagaram, and Visakhapatnam districts. The extent of the damage has yet to be assessed.

Horticultural Department officials are taking steps to control the pest through organic control methods.

“The problem has been brought to the attention of the state government,” said MVS Nagi Reddy, deputy chairman of the Andhra Pradesh Agriculture Mission.

Field trials

“Various management strategies such as the use of Isaria fumosorosea (NBAIR Pfu-5) have been adopted. The results are encouraging. Field trials were carried out in collaboration with the National Bureau of Agricultural Insect Resources (NBAIR-ICAR), Bengaluru, in Madavaraidupalem in East Godavari and Kalavalapalli in West Godavari districts. The results showed that I. fumosorosea reduced the hatching of RSW in eggs. At high temperatures (> 350 ° C), however, there is comparatively less suppression of eggs, ”says NBV Chalapathi Rao, Head of the Horticultural Research Station (HRS) in Amabajipeta and Principal Scientist (Horticulture).

“Good results with I. fumosorosea can be achieved if the spraying is carried out with high-jet sprayers every 10 to 15 days if the temperatures are not high. Spraying should be initiated early in the season when a RSW population is observed, as this can have a greater impact and can decrease and halt the build-up of the RSW population, ”he says.

The RSW was first reported in kindergartens in Kadiyam in the East Godavari district at the end of December 2016.

In 2019 and 2020, 319 villages in the East and West Godavari, Krishna, Srikakulam, Vizianagaram and Visakhapatnam districts were affected.

During these years, around 10,226 hectares of coconut plantations and 11,744 hectares of oil palm plantations were affected.

With RSW incidence re-reported, farmers fear that the yield is likely to decrease by about 20%.

As part of measures to contain the spread, the government has supplied farmers with Isaria fumosorosea, a biopesticide, through the horticultural department.

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