MULTAN: Growers and farmers are fearing a loss in cotton crop owing to expected heavy monsoon rains, high temperature and whitefly attack.

 

Farmer Jam Safdar Samija of village Multaniwala said he was sure to have a bumper cotton crop at the end of year but his crop was attacked by whitefly. He said in the market quality pesticide to combat whitefly attack is not available easily. He said high temperature is conducive atmosphere for whitefly to play havoc with crops. He said unpredictable weather would damage their crops. According to agriculture scientists, July is a critical time for setting bolls for earliness in cotton and most cotton begins blooming in early July and blooms through August.

 

It is important to ensure that adequate moisture and fertility are available to set a good crop in the first two-four weeks of bloom, they added.

 

Growers say much of the crop in southern Punjab cotton growing districts has entered into the bloom cycle and will be approaching peak bloom within the next few weeks to a month. They underlined the need for development of climate resistant seed varieties. Kissan Committee central leader Malik Iqbal said the peak bloom also often coincides with the onset of monsoon season but the government lacked any planning. He said high moisture levels in the atmosphere can lead to high nighttime temperatures, causing the plant to encounter heat stress. This may lead to aborted fruiting forms, typically in very young one-to three-day-old bolls, he said. He underlined the need for aggressive planning to save the crop.

 

The scientists say the research has shown that level-2 heat stress experienced by the crop over a period of several days may result in significant fruit shed, particularly if the heat stress coincides with the peak bloom crop development stage.

 

Talking to reporters, Pakistan Kissan Ittehad chairman Chaudhry Muhammad Anwar said the government has failed in getting desired results of pesticide applications on cotton crops. The mafia involved in fake pesticide has manufactured adulterated pesticides. He said widespread attack of whitefly and Jassid could be averted due to proper use of pesticide but quality pesticides was not available in the market.

 

He said the cash crop cotton passes through five development phases to mature but the government had tackled cotton phases in a non-serious manner. He said there is no planning in handling five cotton development phases including germination and emergence, seedling establishment, leaf area and canopy development, flowering and boll development.

 

He said the transitions between these stages are not always sharp and clear. Each stage may also have different physiological processes operating within specific requirements. If producers are aware of these stage-dependent differences in cotton growth and requirements, then many problems in crop management can be avoided, which will result in higher yields and profits.

 

Maintaining a balance between vegetative and reproductive growth will help to optimize earliness and preserve yield and fiber quality potential. Irrigation initiation and timing play dominant roles in this balance, he said. The Central Cotton Research Institute Director Dr Zahid Mehmood says the government is fully aware to protect the cotton crop from losses and pest attacks.

 

He said growers should remain in contact with agriculture experts for best crop management. The farmers should focus upon best crop management for better yield. He said the growers should apply only recommended pesticides. He said the CCRI has already launched a Tele Cotton Service and registered farmers can get useful updates, guidance directly on their mobile phones. The TCS is providing Phutti rates, weather conditions, cotton diseases and pests, cotton varieties and other technical information. The TCS first requires registration then growers would be able to get information through text messages on a regular basis, he added.