AGRICULTURE TRIBUNE Monday, December 18, 2000, Chandigarh, India

Developing better seeds for shisham plantation
By Kulwinder Sandhu
HE Forest Research Institute (FRI), Dehra Dun, has developed six clonal seed orchards and three hedge gardens for experiments to prepare better seeds for the future plantation of shisham tree and study the silviculture, chemical and protective measures of its mortality. 

Micro-irrigation getting popular
By V.P. Prabhakar
ICRO irrigation systems are gaining popularity in Gurgaon and Mahendragarh districts of Haryana.




Developing better seeds for shisham plantation
By Kulwinder Sandhu

THE Forest Research Institute (FRI), Dehra Dun, has developed six clonal seed orchards and three hedge gardens for experiments to prepare better seeds for the future plantation of shisham tree and study the silviculture, chemical and protective measures of its mortality. Although, the extent of shisham (dalbergia sessoo) mortality in the natural forests, plantations and agroforestry has not been enumerated seriously so far, yet in the recent past, a large-scale shisham mortality has been reported from almost all the northern states of India. This has not only disrupted the economic targets of the respective state forest departments but also incurred financial losses to the big and marginal farmers.

According to Dr T.C. Pokhrial, a physiologist in the FRI, in a recent survey in Bihar, Haryana, Delhi, Punjab, Himachal Pradesh and Uttar Pradesh, shisham mortality was observed to be prominent either in isolated tree or on the plants growing on agricultural bunds and along roads and canal side. In some cases block plantations as well as mixed cropping were less affected by mortality. However, the tree growing on the fringes are being affected.

An ocular estimation by the state forest department reveals that Bihar is the worst affected state. Even 90 per cent mortality has been reported in various parts of the state where shisham trees were planted along roads and canals. In UP, shisham mortality is around 30 per cent and Himachal Pradesh 35 to 50 per cent. In Himachal Pradesh, the twin attack of deadly fungi has infected thousands of shisham trees in Bilaspur, Una, Hamirpur, Kangra and parts of Mandi district. In Kangra, Dehra and Nadaun subdivisions alone more than 2,500 trees have dried. In Jwalamukhi-Kangra 35 km long highway area, 1,200 shisham trees dried in 1997 and 1998. About 900 trees fell prey to the deadly fungi in 1999.

Shisham tree is capable of tolerating the maximum temperature not exceeding 39C and minimum temperature of 4C to 6C. In the sub-Himalayan tract and the Himalayan valley, the tree grows typically on sandy and gravelly alluvium on beds of rivers and springs up on landslips and other places where the soil is exposed.

Dr Mahinder Pal, Head of the Botany Division, FRI, says that the mortality of shisham trees has been so far reported primarily due to pathogens like fusarium, ganoderma and phellinus possibly as a result of unusual climatic conditions of erratic rainfall, extreme foggy days, extreme winter, hot summer seasons and waterlogging. Non-judicious irrigation schedules, fertiliser application, imbalances in soil physical properties, biotic stress, nutrient deficiencies and changes in land patterns are other major causes of shisham mortality. Nutrient deficiencies may also contribute to shisham parching. Adverse hydrological conditions primarily waterlogging leads to lengthy soil moisture regimes at saturation and subsaturation levels which, in turn influence the death of shisham to a greater extent.

Living shisham trees are attacked by a number of pathogenic fungus. The common among them are fusarium solani and ganoderma lucidum. Fusarium solani is a soil-borne fungus and invades the tree through the root system. Dr Subhash Nautiyal, another physiologist in the FRI, working on the project to save shisham from the deadly fungus, says that these fungi grow in the soil due to waterlogging. It releases a pink substance, which is toxic in nature and blocks the food carrying vessels of the main stem. It also destroys the finer rootlets and root hair as well as bacterial nodules. Therefore, the scientists at the FRI suggest that the species of shisham should be raised in sand or sandy loam soils but purely loam or clay soils should be avoided. Another important fungal root disease of shisham is caused by ganoderma lucidum which occurs in all parts of India.

The defoliator plecoptera reflexa is the most serious insect pest of shisham and often causes serious damage to concentrated plantations. The insect completes 10 to 11 generations in one year. A large number of control measures against this pest have been advocated. It is a common observation that vigorous crops suffer least damage and exhibit greatest power of recovery. For the introduction of shisham on the most suitable sites, adequate irrigation and thinning from the earliest stages are of great help from this point of view.

The scientists in the FRI started collecting the clonial material from the hilly areas at around 1500 metres because no mortality has been reported at this height level. Germ plasm banks have already been established to get better results for the next generation shisham trees. Clonal seed orchards have been established on the FRI campus, Lachiwala, near Dehra Dun in Hoshiarpur district of Punjab, Bithmera in Haryana, Paunta Saheb in Himachal Pradesh and Haldwani in UP. Dr Mahinder Pal says that clonal seeds have shown better results in the first state.

For a comparative study of clonal propagation and natural seed production the FRI has also identified a few seedling production areas at various places in UP, Himachal Pradesh, Rajasthan, Punjab and Haryana. The progency tests of clonal seeds have so far shown better results. One hectare clonal hedge garden can produce 10 lakhs of seedlings in two years. It costs only 20 per cent more than normal seed production.


Micro-irrigation getting popular
By V.P. Prabhakar

MICRO irrigation systems are gaining popularity in Gurgaon and Mahendragarh districts of Haryana.

The benefits of drip irrigation in orchards are being taken by only big farmers, while sprinkler irrigation is being used by farmers, irrespective of the size of their holdings. The benefit: cost ratios computed for the guava, ber, aonia, kinnow, mausami and anar orchards are much higher under drip irrigation as compared to traditional irrigation along with considerable amount of saving of water, fertilisers, electricity and labour. In Gurgaon district. Crops like strawberry and gladiolus are highly profitable under drip irrigation.

Misuse of subsidy in drip irrigation in both districts, according to a report of the Indian Council of Agricultural Research, was noticed. Subsidy has a positive impact on the adoption of micro-irrigation. The ICAR has suggested that subsidy on drip irrigation may be reduced as most of the large farmers have taken its advantage, but it may be increased on sprinkler irrigation as farmers of all categories are adopting this technology. There is good potential of micro-irrigation in the two districts.

As regards production constraints under the rice-wheat system in Haryana, it was observed that in Karnal and Kaithal districts the annual loss due to major biotic, abiotic and socio-economic constraints was to the tune of Rs 23, 164 million which is 49.6 per cent of the current value of output under this system. The biotic constraint factors are rice blast, tops the list followed by leaf blight (non-basmati rice), phalaris minor (wheat), leaf folder (basmati) and poor seed quality (wheat). Important abiotic constraints are late sowing (wheat) and problem of brackish water (wheat), zinc deficiency (wheat), water stress (non-basmati rice) and low plant population (wheat). Socio-economic constraints are related to irregular and inadequate supply of power, water, agro-chemicals, seeds, labour, price risk, etc.

Biotechnologically developed cultivars with multiple resistance to various biotic and abiotic constraints, and integrated pest management and integrated plant nutrient management technologies will enable bridging these gaps at a low cost, and should receive high priority. On the policy front, the most urgent need is assurance of regular power supply to the farm sector and encouragement to development of labour-saving devices suitable for rice-wheat farming. The fertiliser subsidy policy needs to be restructured in favour of potassium and phosphoric fertilisers and use of biological substitutes to the nitrogen fertilisers should be promoted. The input supply system should be strengthened to ensure timely supply of quality inputs. High risk in prices indicates that despite seemingly operative price support system farmers still feel vulnerable.

The farmers of semi-arid region in India, according to the report, responded significantly to changes in crop and input prices despite poor physical and infrastructural environment. The magnitude of such a response was comparable to that obtained in more stable and favourable environment. A 10 per cent increase in real price of output raised supply of rice, cotton and sorghum by about 25 per cent and that of wheat and groundnut by about 8 per cent. The role of technology, as measured by the ratio of crop yield, was stronger in raising crop output. A 10 per cent increase in crop yield relative to competing crop yield raised output of different crops by 13-51 per cent.

This shows that in subsistence a griculture the impact of productivity is stronger than prices as the productivity change is actually experienced or is observed by the farmers, while price changes are only perceived since bulk of the output is not sold in the market. The study revealed that relative crop returns are a strong motivation for the farmers in the rainfed region to increase supply by increasing area or yield or both. Effects of change in competing crop price and fertiliser price were also estimated.


Farm operations for Dec

Horticultural operations

The best time for the application of farmyard manure and compost to the fruit trees in Punjab is the second fortnight of December. Inorganic fertilisers like superphosphate and muriate of potash are also applied along with the farmyard manure, especially in deciduous fruit plants like pear, peach, plum, etc.

If the growers have not properly covered the young fruit plants uptil now, they should do so without any further delay to save them from frost.

The dead and diseased wood and criss-crossing branches from the bearing citrus trees should be removed during this month soon after the harvest of fruit crops.

The ber trees need an irrigation or so during the period as the fruits are in the developing stage. If there is rainfall, this irrigation can be skipped. If the attack of powdery mildew is still persisting, give another spray with 0.25 per cent wettable sulphur or 0.5 to 0.08 per cent Karathane 50 EC immediately.

The harvesting of malta and grape fruits will be in full swing. The fruit should be properly sorted, graded and packed for market.

To control the citrus canker, the infested plant parts should be cut off and destroyed by burning. The pruned trees should be sprayed with Bordeaux mixture (2:2:250) periodically. In papaya, spray the plants with 0.2 per cent Ziram or Captan or Diathane M-45 (200 g in 100 litres of water) at fortnighly intervals to check the attack of anthracnose.

It is the right time for layout, preparation of fields (digging and filling of pits) for planting deciduous plants in January.

For hastening maturity of grapes pruning should be completed by December 25. After pruning apply/spray Dormax 2.5 per cent on buds for breaking dormancy. Pruning of deciduous plants like peach, pear, plum, etc. may start during the end of this month.


Annuals plants both in flower beds and pots should be given proper attention to get the desired effect. Timely irrigation is essential for good growth and to save the annuals from the adverse effect of cold nights. To boost the growth of seasonals in pots, application of liquid manure can be very useful.

Well-developed plants must be producing wonderful flowers this month. This is the best time to select and label the plants required to be used as mother plants for getting cuttings in the next season.

Rose plants must be at their best as far as growth and flowering is concerned. Foliage and flowers both are attacked by insects in this month. Spray of monocrotophos is recommended to save the plants. High rate of growth suckers shoot up in great number, keep on removing the same.

Cannas will be giving their last flash and may be watered well and, if required, application of manure can enhance the flowering. Double dahlia plants developed from cuttings require constant to get one or two big sized flowers for pots.

Permanent plants
To protect the newly planted samplings of ornamental trees, shrubs and creepers and other tender plants against frost, sarkanda koolies may be contructed on them. Keep south-west side open for providing sunshine.

Progressive Farming, PAU

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