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Telangana’s Kollapur mango growers hit hard by global warming, pests – The New Indian Express

Express News Service

HYDERABAD: The mango crop this year seems to be a washout. The climate change coupled with fungal and pest attacks paints a very bleak picture for the mango crop this year.

A few decades ago, when flowering in mango trees used to happen in October and November when temperatures used to be very low. As time went by and temperatures began rising, flowering has been delayed till December.

This year, it happened towards the end of January. Then the unseasonal rains added to the adverse weather conditions the crucial flowering, dashing the hopes of mango growers across Telangana and outside.

The case study of Kollapur in Nagarkurnool district, from where the best quality mangoes are exported to several countries, paints a gloomy picture of what lies next. Kollapur has been boasting of mango orchards spread in around 37,600 acres, with farmers growing the ‘king of the fruits’ for several decades.

In the past decade, the flowering of mango trees used to happen during the first week of December, the last week of December, or in the first week of January at the most. Fruit-bearing would start by end of March.

However, this year, flowering has started in the end of January, which has caught the farmers off-guard. According to M Lakshman, Horticultural Officer of Kollapur division, if there is a temperature variation by 3-4 degrees Celsius from flowering to fruit-bearing period, it wouldn’t make much difference.

But due to delayed flowering, there was a sudden rise in temperatures from 32 degrees Celsius to 40 degrees Celsius in February and there was a further rise in March. To add to this, there were rains in the second and third week of February, which have invited pests like mango hoppers and black thrips, and fungal attacks like powdery mildew and sooty mold, which have caused large-scale devastation of the crop.

Experts say that the ideal temperature for flowering in mangoes is 15 degrees Celsius . Temperatures in Telangana began receding only after December 2nd week and in November and December, even the minimum temperatures were above 20 degrees Celsius on several days, which condition is not conducive to providing a cool climate which would have been congenial for flowering.

Dr T Prabhakar Reddy, the Senior Scientist at Krishi Vigyan Kendra, Palem, tells Express that there have been wide fluctuations in the day and night temperatures which have caused the delay. On top of that, black thrips infestation which has ravaged chilly and groundnut crops in the region has found a new host in mango trees, and due to indiscriminate use of pesticides, there has been a resurgence.

The worst is yet to come, as hailstorms are expected to hit the region during the last week of April, or the first week of May, when the surviving fruits would be fully grown and ready for harvesting. Most affected are the tenant farmers from the Mudiraju community, who annually take mango orchards on lease in Telangana. 

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