Just when farmers in Adilabad were expecting a bumper harvest, the pest began destroying the crop

Yesterday we reported that GM Bt cotton had failed in Pakistan. Now here’s a story about GM Bt cotton failing in India, under a pest onslaught.

Cotton comes under pink bollworm pest attack

The Hindu, 21 Nov 2016

* Just when farmers in Adilabad were expecting a bumper harvest, the pest began destroying crop

For the cotton farmer, there is many a slip between the cup and the lip. Take the instance of ryots in Jamidi village of Tamsi mandal whose crop has been damaged due to an unforeseen and severe attack by the pink bollworm (Pectinophora gossypiella) pest this kharif.

“Just when I began feeling that it will be a bumper harvest, the pink bollworm pest began destroying the standing crop,” lamented Soma Suresh Reddy as he looked at the seemingly healthy tall plants on his two-acre cotton field.

“The pest has not come under control despite spraying the field for as many as 20 times instead of the normal 6 or 7 times,” pointed out the morose farmer who is planning to uproot the crop.

He is not the first one to think on those lines nor will he be the last one in Jamidi village. Already, Yelti Waman Reddy and a few others have done away with their crop bearing huge losses.

“The pest, which causes failure of buds to open, seed loss and damage to the lint, was first reported in August, which is quite unusual as pink bollworms are known to hit between November and February, which actually limits the damage to the crop,” says D. Mohan Das, Agriculture Scientist from Agriculture Research Station, Adilabad. After visiting the fields in Jamidi village, he termed the pest attack to be of severe proportions.

“Among preventive measures which need to be taken is use of pheromone traps, spraying the crop with neem oil mixed with systemic insecticides and cultivating non-Bt variety cotton on the fringes of the field,” he suggested.

The pestilence seems to be limited to the RCH 659 BG II variety of Bt cotton and is severe in mono crops than in cotton fields which exhibit inter-cropping with redgram.

In Jamidi, this variety has been sown in over 700 acres and none of the preventive measures taken by farmers seems to have succeeded in saving the crop in a good extent.

The pest has also attacked cotton in a few villages in Talamadugu and Indervelli mandal where the scientists have made studies. Though it is of endemic proportion at present, there is the danger of the pestilence becoming an epidemic, according to experts.

“In order to control the spread of such pestilence in the coming kharif, pheromone traps should also be set up at cotton processing units. It has been observed that fields around the industrial area are worst affected by the pink bollworm,” said Dr. Mohan Das.