In response to the recent weather conditions favouring the outbreak and spread of late blight, the Punjab Agricultural University has issued crucial guidance for farmers to protect their tomato and potato crop. Dr. Satbir Singh Gosal, the Vice-Chancellor, and Dr. Ajmer Singh Dhatt, Director of Research, emphasized the urgent need for proactive measures to mitigate the impact of this disease.
Dr. S.S. Gosal informed that the combination of high humidity and low temperatures creates an ideal environment for late blight. Its initial symptoms include small, light to dark green, circular to irregular water-soaked spots, which rapidly expand into large, dark lesions in cool, moist weather. These lesions often appear greasy, with a pale green to yellow border. Failure to control it promptly can devastate the entire crop and spread from infected potatoes to tomatoes.
Highlighting the importance of selecting recommended resistant varieties/hybrids, Dr. Gosal cautioned against using unrecommended varieties, as they are highly susceptible to this disease, which could lead to early crop loss. Maintaining proper spacing between plants within the canopy was another key aspect emphasized by Dr. Gosal. Adequate spacing promotes better aeration and helps mitigate the risk of late blight development.
Dr. Ajmer Singh Dhatt stressed additional measures essential for effective late blight management. He suggested the prompt destruction of infected crop residue to prevent the spread of the disease to nearby fields. Advising farmers to avoid the overhead sprinkler irrigation, Dr. Dhatt encouraged the use of drip irrigation where feasible and emphasized daytime irrigation so that foliage dries before nightfall and the risk of disease proliferation is minimized.
Moreover, Dr. Dhatt underscored the importance of regular field monitoring and the timely application of specific fungicides. He recommended chemicals like Indofil M-45, Curzate M-8, Melody Duo 66.75 WP, Ridomil Gold, Sectin 60 WG, Revus 250 SC, or Equation Pro at specified intervals. He warned against under-dosing or using self-prepared mixtures, as this could lead to the development of resistant strains of the pathogen.
Farmers and stakeholders are strongly advised to heed these recommendations for effective late blight management and are encouraged to seek further guidance from agricultural authorities.