Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Loranthus longiflorus E Higngs: A menace to Mandarin cultivation in Garo Hills, Meghalaya

Mandarin orange is a popular fruit crop of Garo Hills which comprises of three districts viz. West Garo Hills, East Garo Hills and South Garo Hills. The farmers of these three districts cultivate mandarins extensively and produce 3,132 tonnes from an area of 1, 716 Ha. The Mandarins of Garo Hills are either cv. Khasi Manadrin or unknown cultivars. The Khasi Manadrin seedlings are mostly procured from Horticulture Departments of the three districts, Government of Meghalaya through various schemes and subsidy and some are through self-propagation which started after the formation of Meghalaya state in 1972 onwards. Some of the very old orchard are said to be propagated by seeds from Burma brought by Britishers during the last years of the 19th century. Other orchards are considered to be propagated by seeds from Assam and Kolkata during the middle part of the 20th century. The orchards of Garo Hills are not planted and managed scientifically. The seedlings are planted mostly on old shifting cultivation lands without proper layout and are left to grow as it is without applying any fertilizers, however, weeding is done twice a year. Pesticides, fungicides and herbicides are not used in the orchards and are purely organic in nature. In some orchards inter-cropping is done with arecanut, tea, coffee and banana. In such cases diseases, pest and parasites is a common problem in the area. Loranthus spp is one of the most common troublesome parasites found in Garo Hills. It reduces the productivity of the plants. 
Description of the plant: Loranthus longiflorus E Higngs is a glabrous shrub with green leaves but without a true root system. The stem is thick, erect and flattened at the nodes and appears to arise in clusters at the point of attachment. It produces long and tubular flowers. Birds and other animals disseminate the seeds through their droppings. The plant grows strongly on ageing trees particularly somewhere in the middle of old branches. Once established, it steals minerals and water, as well as block sunlight by covering the encroached place.
  1. It gets attached to the host branches by means of bulged haustoria which serve as absorbing organs.
  2. This in turn feeds on the host and leads to die-back and death of branches.
  1. The parasite should be removed at the early stage when it is easy to detach from the host plant.
  2. The infected branch and twigs should be cut well below the last hustorium and destroyed.
  3. The parasite should be destroyed before the maturity of the berries.

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