The Telegraph
Sunday , April 20 , 2014
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Disease blow to king of fruits

- Scientists predict 60 per cent drop in mango production this year

Ranchi, April 19: Mango lovers may well get ready to relish less of their much-loved fruit this summer.

Agriculturists have predicted a 60 per cent drop in mango production in Jharkhand in 2014, thanks to adverse weather conditions that caused the Infloresence Blight disease in mango flowers, which dried fast and fell down before blossoming into fruits.

In 2012-2013, around 4 lakh metric tonnes of the succulent, yellow fruit were grown across the 40,000-hectare mango belt in Jharkhand.

“Although mango flowers grew in abundance this year too, they were affected by Infloresence Blight because of prolonged showers in the first week of March and excessive humidity. As a result, the small blossoms dried up easily and fell from the trees. This will naturally cause production to go down by at least 60 per cent,” confirmed Bikas Das, a fruit scientist at ICAR-Plandu in Ranchi.

S. Kumar, former principal scientist of ICAR-Plandu who had done extensive research on mangoes, agreed, saying that the showers affected pollination in the flowers.

This is the first time that the disease has dealt a huge blow to mango crop that blossoms from mid-February, while fruits are formed around early March, a crucial phase when they are most vulnerable to showers, hailstorm or heavy wind.

According to Das, the mangoes that are currently available in the market at Rs 70-Rs 80 per kg are being brought from South India.

Those that are grown locally in Hazaribagh, Ranchi, Khunti, Gumla and Lohardaga will arrive late in the market around June.

“But we are expecting limited supply from these areas. Some farmers have already approached us, seeking advice on how to prevent Infloresence Blight from spreading in ot her mango trees. We have advised them to use the Bavistis fungicide that will prevent further growth of the fungus,” the scientist added.

So far, the scientists at ICAR-Plandu have been able to reach out to 5,000 farmers via SMSes. They are trying to contact more farmers across the mango production belt.

“Hopefully, our suggestions will work well for them,” Das added.

Of all the varieties of mango, the demand is more for langra and dasheri in Jharkhand.

But with supply projected to be less this year, fruit wholesalers and vendors are expected to jack up prices.

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