Time for blanket covers

Published on: 09:47AM Oct 05, 2009
Rain is normally a great blessing. It is especially welcome when pregnant clouds appear after a long and arid spell. However, you can have more water than you need at times. All crops are vulnerable to precipitation close to harvest. Rust is perhaps the deadliest of pests that can appear when inclement weather greets the end of a crop season. You can wake up one morning and find miles of valuable crops destroyed.

It is not unusual for it to rain in India during October. It is time for the South West monsoon to recede with some closing showers. The North East sets in towards the end of the month, and an early onset should not be unwelcome. However strange things have happened thus far in October 2009, and meterologists hold out no hope for an early end to this very wet spell.

Thousands of people have been affected by very heavy rains in Southern and Western India. Television is rightly full of people stranded amidst swirling waters. Emergency services are so stretched that the Army and Air Force have been pressed in to civil service. The country seems to have forgotten crops waiting to be harvested. Grain, beans, vegetables, soy, and peanuts are all at risk. Cotton bolls have burst, but some losses are possible in this crop as well.

It is time for blanket sprays of Trichoderma and Pseudomonas. These useful microbes can occupy all plant surfaces in sight, leaving less if any room for their pathogenic cousins. Beauvaria is another useful fungus at this time in case any opportunistic caterpillars descend. I have alerted all my field networks and hope that farmers will get stocks of useful fungi and bacteria before they lose significant yields.