The Tribune - Spectrum

Sunday, January 30, 2000
Garden Life

Fight the pests
By Satish Narula

THERE is a thin line between a full-crop and no-crop-at-all. When we say this, we are not talking about the vagaries of the weather or poor nutrition. There are those little devils, the insects, that make all the difference. This is especially true in case of peach, plum, almond, mango etc. There is still time for the drop-causing insects in mango to appear. First, let us discuss peach, plum and almond plants.

Peach leaf curl aphid retards the growth and fruit-bearing ability of the plant.I received many complaints by gardeners about failure of crop in peach, plum and almond. The enquiry is usually about fruit bearing potential of these trees. Sometimes they even entertain the prospect of getting rid of the tree. If at all they are lucky to get a few fruits, such fruits are small in size, misshapen and show premature fall.

You can be assured of a full crop. In fact the introduction of peach, plum and pear in the plains has revolutionalised horticulture and proved a money-spinner for orchardists. The quality of fruit is excellent and it is available aplenty. The main advantage of these fruits is that the crop hardly takes quarter of a year from flowering to fruition. There is no serious insect-pest or disease for the rest of the year. In what situations is there no crop at all?

  There is characteristic curling of leaves. This is caused by peach-leaf-curl aphids. The curling is caused by sucking of sap by thousands of tiny light green nymphs that congregate on the stem and emerging leaves. They weaken the flowers and the setting fruit causing drop and misshaping. Aphids are easy to control. Keep a close watch right from the time the leaves start emerging and give a spray of rogor 30 EC (dimethoate) at one mm to a litre of water at bud break. Repeat the spray immediately after fruit-set too. Peach black aphids and mites too cause damage by sucking the sap from the bark of the stem, limbs and branches but that is late, during April to June. For the control of these insects, spray malathion at one ml to a litre of water. Spray on stem and limbs too. The spray should be carried out when the sun is high.

There are other insects like chaffer and other defoliating beetles that destroy the foliage and even damage the developing fruit. In such cases, spray seven 50 WP at 2 gm to a litre of water as soon as the damage starts. Repeat the spray after five or six days if the damage continues. Spray in the evening. This spray will also take care of plum case-worm that nibbles on the bark of tender twigs, branches and stems. Another major damage in peach was due to fruit fly attack in which case the fruit was rendered unfit for consumption.

The attack was more pronounced in case of late ripening varieties i.e. from May till when the crop was over.Now by planting early ripening varieties like Partap, Earli Grande, Grand Prince, Flordasun and the grand old Shan-i-Punjab you can get rid of this menace.

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