Move to develop disease-resistant areca palms leaps forward

CPCRI collects inflorescence from three palms in plantations in Sampaje and Chembu villages

In continued initiative to develop an arecanut plant variety that will be resistant to Yellow Leaf Disease, the Central Plantation Crops Research Institute (CPCRI) has now collected inflorescence from such arecanut palms that have withstood the disease, for developing tissue-cultured disease-resistant plants.

According to general secretary of Puttur-based All India Areca Growers Association Mahesh Puchchappady a team of scientists from the institute collected inflorescence from identified palms in areas affected by the disease in Sampaje and Chembu villages.

Inflorescence was collected from three palms in the arecanut plantations of Lainkaje Prabhakara and Madhava Nadubetta on Friday. CPCRI in Kasaragod of Kerala is planning to multiply these palms by inter-crossing between two disease-free palms and by tissue-culture techniques. It is the first stage of the project.

Senior Technical Assistant Muralikrishna and his team that collected the inflorescence took them to the CPCRI laboratory in Kasaragod, he said.

Last month, CPCRI scientist Bhavishya identified disease-resistant palms in Sampaje and Chembu areas for taking samples. Later, the samples from five such palms were sent to the institute’s Kayamkulam laboratory for ensuring that the palms did not have disease. Inflorescence was taken from three of five such palms, the general secretary said.

According to CPCRI, caused by the bacteria phytoplasma, arecanut leaves turn yellow when afflicted with this disease. Kernel of the nuts of affected palms become soft, showing blackish discolouration and leading to a spongy texture. The disease is transmitted by the plant-hopper insect Proutista moesta.

Since the disease is not possible to control by conventional methods, farmers remove affected plants from their plantations. The disease affects areca palms of all age groups leading to a decline in the plant’s productivity.

Yellow Leaf Disease in arecanut plantations was first noticed in Kerala in 1914. It was predominantly seen in Sullia region of Dakshina Kannada district and Koppa and Sringeri regions of Chikkamagaluru district in the State all these years.

According to Mr. Puchhappady, the disease is now spreading from traditional to non-traditional areas.

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