Fog leading to scorch in potato crop, benefit for rabi

Potato farm.

New Delhi,  Severe cold and dense fog have triggered concerns among farmers. Experts, however, said that no crop will be affected except potato.

Agricultural scientists say that if there is a further fall in temperature, frost will start, which may pose a risk of spoilage for many rabi crops. Also, there have been complaints of scorching potatoes due to increasing humidity and fog.

Manoj Kumar, Joint Deputy Director of the Central Potato Research Institute-Regional Center Modipuram, Meerut, told IANS that the temperature has not dropped much so there is no frost but due to fog and the absence of sunlight there is humidity in the atmosphere, which has increased the risk of a late blight in potatoes.

The institute comes under the Indian Council of Agricultural Research (ICAR).

He said that complaints of scorching in potatoes have been received from Uttar Pradesh and Punjab and an advisory has been issued by the institute.

In a letter to the Director of Horticulture and Food Processing, Uttar Pradesh on December 24, Kumar informed that there has been a report of the outbreak of backward blight in Hathras and Auraiya districts. In his letter, he asked the Director to inform the farmers about the disease and irrigate the potato according to need only to avoid moisture in the fields.

He advised the farmers to immediately spray a fungicide containing mancozeb or propinab or chloroethanol on potato crops in those fields which are still not affected from the scorching to save them from this disease. At the same time, where there is an outbreak of scorching, spraying has also been advised. This spraying may be repeated at 10-day intervals, but may also be reduced or increased depending on the severity of the disease.

P.K. Rai, Executive Director of the Mustard Research Directorate in Bharatpur, Rajasthan, which is under the ICAR, told IANS that at present there is no damage to mustard, pulses or other crops of the rabi season like wheat and gram. However, frost may damage many crops.

He said that when the temperature hovers around two to three degrees Celsius and remains at this level for two to three hours, the sap of the crop’s stem accumulates aqueous fluid, causing damage to the crop, but at this time such a situation is not there.

At present the minimum temperature is five to six degrees Celsius, due to which there is humidity in the atmosphere and there is fog shade. It is also beneficial for many crops as it provides moisture to them, he said.

Rai said that there will be damage to the crop if it gets reared, but crops like mustard, wheat, gram have not been damaged so far.