Fungicide Spray in Apple Amid Covid-19 Crisis

By: Showkat Salim

Fungicides are chemical compounds that inhibit or destroy the growth of fungi or fungal spores. Use of fungicides in Kashmir in many agriculture or horticulture crops particularly apple is a century old practice. The use of fungicides for an effective management of diseases has become crucial in the last decades in apple cultivation process in Kashmir because the fungal infections have been recorded or estimated to reduce yield
reductions of almost 25-30 per cent in the valley.

Mostly farmers of the valley are known to these fungicides by their tradenames with very less information regarding their modes of action and proper usage. This reflects from the fact that most of the farmers still rely on the dealer’s choice neglecting the scientific revelations and recommendations. Let me clear it by arguing that most of the farmers of the valley prefer Urea only as the fertilizer neglecting the role of Phosphorus, Potassium and other nutrients like Calcium, Boron and Zinc etc.

Though the SKUAST-K, Department of Agriculture and Horticulture annually publicizes different advisories regarding the fungicides, little seem to be executed on the ground, thereby leading to poor ecological and economic balance in this sector.

Fungicides that are widely used in the valley to control the diseases in Apple can be broadly catagorised into two groups, that can be applied before infection to protect the plants from fungal invasion. These types of fungicides called Contact fungicides have a protective action. Others called as Systemic fungicides can be used to eliminate or eradicate an established infection. Fungicides like Mancozeb, Captan, Zineb, Ziram, Propineb etc. are
the most preferred contact fungicides available in the market. Whereas Carbendazim, Hexaconazole, Dodine, Tubeconazole, Difenaconazole etc. come under the category of
systemic fungicides.

There are some combinations of fungicides containing both contact as well as systemic compounds which act as broad-spectrum fungicides. Examples include MancozebCarbendazim, Metalaxyl + Mancozeb and Zineb + Hexaconazole.

Important to mention that there are products called Novel fungicides also available in the market like Strobilurin which are new and use various target sites and multiple pathways to function against the Apple diseases. These include Kresoxim-methyl, Picoxystrobin, Fluoxastrobin, Pyraclostrobin and Trifloxystrobin.

For clear understanding, let us work out on a novel Strobilurin product available in
the market known by the trade name Nativo containing Trifloxystrobin + Tubeconazole as principal chemical constituents. This is to justify owing to the reasons that the farmers of the valley are under lockdown and severe restrictions are in place. In order to minimize the number of fungicidal sprays under this health threatening Covid19 infection, this group of fungicides like the one mentioned above find par excellent justification and recommendations most particularly at/after Petal fall stage.

Practical conclusions from various studies reveal that this combination is not having
enough competition in the market regarding management of Apple diseases owing to its
novel Systemicity like xylem mobility, translaminar activity and episystemic distribution in the plant system.

There are various influencing factors which determine the mode of action and efficacy of a fungicide like Physico-chemical properties, environmental conditions (like humidity, temperature and wind), chemical formulation and canopy structure.

In order to efficiently utilize the available resources, and minimize the fungicide
sprays in Covid19 crises, Agriculture cum Horticulture Technocrats welcome farmers all across the valley to be in touch via mobile or WhatsApp portal and get valuable
information regarding the subject of fungicide sprays so that we don’t suffer in Apple production, the lovable fruit of the valley.

(Author is a phytopathologist and works as Extension Officer JKAPD, Kakapora, Pulwama, J&K. Email: [email protected]

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