Boll worm problem in Sindh
By Shaukat Ali Bhambhro
In Sindh the wheat production target of 2.256 million tons
has been fixed for 2004-2005. The projected 45 to 50 per
cent water shortage and the delayed removal of cotton crop
from fields have given rise to apprehensions that the wheat
target for current Rabi season may not be achieved.
Last year, high price of phutti (seed cotton) had tempted
the growers to keep cotton crop in the field till the
opening of the last boll. This delayed the removal of cotton
plants which, in turn, helped in proliferation of pink
bollworms and delayed the sowing of wheat crop resulting in
low per acre yield.
This year too, the same scenario is developed, not because
cotton growers wanted to keep the plants in fields for
phutti but due to the shortage of pickers. Majority of
farmers from upper Sindh reported that despite advance
payments they could not get the promised manpower during the
cotton season, especially from the Seraiki belt of Punjab.
This year (Kharif 2003), because of large scale cultivation
of early maturing varieties like the CIM-496, the CIM-499,
the CIM-511 etc., growers of upper Sindh expected completion
of final picking during October and timely sowing of wheat
crop from the first week of November. But the shortage of
cotton pickers changed the scenario.
Survey of standing cotton crop in District Ghotki, Sukkur
and Khairpur undertaken by this scribe during the first week
of December indicated that the unopened cotton bolls,
irrespective of the variety harbour heavy population of pink
boll worm larvae.
Almost 70 per cent unopened bolls were found heavily
infested with pink boll worms. In a Bt cotton field in
Taluka Nara of Khairpur District, 78 per cent bolls of
Niab-78 cultivated with Bt cotton (because of mixing in
seed) were also found infested with pink boll worms.
Survey also indicated that because of low price of seed
cotton (phutti), growers have little interest in the
leftover immature and unopened bolls. Since almost 70 per
cent of the leftover bolls harbour pink boll worm larvae,
keeping the harvested cotton plants for longer period will
be lethal for next year's cotton crop.
In remote villages Haris (tenants) used to keep the
harvested cotton sticks to use it as a fuel for cooking. To
assess pink boll worm situation in phutti and refuge of
ginning factories, survey of some factories in District
Khairpur and Sukkur was conducted.
It was found that cotton refuge in all factories harboured
pink boll worm larvae. It was also observed that to keep
lint free from the yellow cotton, caused by pink boll worm
infestation, women labourers in large numbers had to be
deployed this year in every ginning factory to separate the
infested follicles from the un-infested.
According to the management of ginning factories if menace
of pink bollworm is not attended scientifically, both at
provincial and federal levels, it is quite likely that with
the passage of time increased pink bollworm problems may
jeopardize not only cotton production but also the quality
of lint in upper and lower Sindh.
1. To reduce intensity of carryover population of pink boll
worm, larvae burning of harvested cotton sticks should be
undertaken before February.
2. Since ginning factories refuge, containing discarded
cotton seeds, harbour pink boll worm larvae, its burning
should be ordered in every factory of upper Sindh.
3. Since chemical control of pink boll worms has been found
unsatisfactory and cost-effective, growers should be
apprised of cultural control methods of pink boll worms
Courtesy: The DAWN