A team of researchers in Kasaragod has found Eriophyid mite, which damages amaranthus (red cheera), a common leafy vegetable cultivated all over the country.
The researchers said such infestation in amaranthus was being reported for the first time in India. The mite causes severe malformation of the shoot, making it fibrous and reducing the yield. The researchers, Dr. K.M. Sreekumar, Professor and Head, Department of Entomology, College of Agriculture, Padanekkad; Dr. Srinivasa Nagappa, and N. Sivamoorthy, Project Director, All India Network, Agricultural Acarology, found the mite in amaranthus. Dr. Sreekumar said that the extensive cultivation of amaranth was a common in the coastal areas of Kanhangad in Kasaragod district from October to the second week of June. However, the farmers have been experiencing the problem of Eriophyid mite infestation in the crop for the past three years, he said. He observed that these plants showed crinkling deformity and malformation of tender leaves, a severe reduction in the leaf size and stunting. Besides, farmers also found difficulty in harvesting.
Explaining the study, Dr. Sreekumar said Eriophyid mites, numbering 8 to 28 were noticed in each plant. As a result, the number of periodical tender shoot harvests from April to June was reduced by 50 per cent.
The farmers were severely affected as the produce fetched a very low price. He said an observation trial to contain the pest immediately after a harvest reduced the mite damage symptoms almost completely for at least 15 days when the new shoots would be ready for the next harvest, he claimed.
Even though Eriophyid mites were reported in Tanzania in 1992, it is the first report of the mite infestation in amaranth in the country.
He appealed to the farmers to contact 9447691821 for help if they saw any growth or stagnation in amaranth cultivation.