Leaf miner pests cause extensive damage to apple crop in south Kashmir

Many apple growers from Pulwama district's Chakoora village said that the pest had spelt doom for their apple farms.
"It has affected more than half of my orchard", said Khursheed Ahmad, an orchardist from Zainapora. [Representational Image]
"It has affected more than half of my orchard", said Khursheed Ahmad, an orchardist from Zainapora. [Representational Image]File/GK

Shopian: The leaf miner infestation in apple rich areas of south Kashmir has left hundreds of apple growers distraught.

The pest has been reported from many villages of Shopian, Kulgam and Pulwama districts.

According to the farmers, the pest destroys the leaves after forming a circular blotch on them.

"It has affected more than half of my orchard", said Khursheed Ahmad, an orchardist from Zainapora.

He said that it was for the straight second year when the leaf miner had attacked their orchards. "There does not seem any let up in its infestation”, added Ahmad.

Many apple growers from Pulwama district's Chakoora village said that the pest had spelt doom for their apple farms.

“The pest ultimately damages the fruit. It is also responsible for spurring fruit fall”, said Javed Ahamd , a grower from Pulwama.

Experts say that the leaf miner is a foreign pest and was reported in the Vally only three years ago.

They say that it tunnels its way into leaves, fruits, twigs and stems of the trees. According to them, it was first reported from the orchards located near the Advanced Centre for Horticulture Development ( ACHD) in Zainpora Shopian.

"The exotic plant material and rootstock imported from different countries are being produced in the Centre and there is a possibility that the material served as a carrier for this new pest", they said.

Dr Tariq Rasool , Associate Professor Plant Pathology at SKUAST said that the pest was reported from Shopian , Kulgam and Pulwama villages.

He said that the orchardists must follow the advisories issued by the concerned department to contain the pest. The apple farmers said that they had been grappling with losses over the past several years due to COVID-induced lockdowns, unseasonal snowfall and various diseases attacking their orchards.

“The government must take immediate measures to save the apple industry, which provides livelihood to a large number of people", said Shabir Ahamd, a fruit grower and trader from Shopian.

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