Thiruvananthapuram: The spread of fungal disease powdery mildew has been posing a severe threat to jackfruits in some parts of Kerala.
The disease, knowns a kumil rogam in Malayalam, initially affects the fruits which are lying close to the soil level and spreads quickly to the other fruits on the tree and the tree itself, spoiling it all. As it is a soil-borne disease, the pathogens attack all the trees and plants near the jackfruit tree, completely destroying them.
The researchers with Kerala Agricultural University' Integrated Farming System Research Station (IFSRS) at Karamana, Thiruvananthapuram, found the disease in jackfruits.
Samples collected from the jackfruit trees at a farmer’s land in Kaimanam, Thiruvananthapuram, were tested at the IFSRS last November. After testing the samples from Kottayam, Pathanamthitta and Kollam districts, the disease was confirmed in the State. It spread vastly following the heavy rainfall in the State at the beginning of the year.
Experts directed the farmers to be extremely cautious as the disease was found in unripe jackfruits.
This is for the first time that the jackfruits are found to get spoilt after getting infected with powdery mildew disease, said Dr A Sajeena, Assistant professor with the IFSRS.
The spread is most likely through the air currents and rain drops. The research article has been published in the ‘Journal of plant pathology’. The first symptom is the growth of stark white patches on the surface of the jackfruits. Later, the disease spreads inside the fruits and it decays.
On identifying the disease symptoms, the jackfruits close to the soil level and those right above them should be cut off and destroyed completely. The Agricultural University has started a study on preventive measures against the powdery mildew disease.