Dominican farmers are urged to practice de-leafing in the management of the Black Sigatoka disease.
As part of the practical aspect to a two-week black sigatoka management workshop led by CARDI, participants were taken on a tour of the farm of Deles Warrington, an exemplary Calibishie farmer.
Warrington’s success is as a result of strictly following the advice of the Ministry of Agriculture through his extension officer.
His consistency in using an integrated approach in the management of the Black Sigatoka disease- including weeding, fertilizing and de-leafing- continues to yield excellent results.
CARDI Research Assistant, Gregory Linton told GIS News, “We cannot just depend on spraying. We tend to believe that spraying is the only way to manage the disease and that’s not true. This workshop helped us to understand that chemical control is just aspect of managing the disease. We have to consider factors like nutrition, cultural practices and de-leafing.”
Linton indicated that abandoned fields continue to perpetuate the disease.
Another challenge, he says, is the refusal of some farmers to de-leaf, as it is believed that more leaves mean better bunches. Linton says however, farmers can yield better bunches with timely and proper fertilization.
“Most farmers do not do fertilize on time or sufficiently control nematodes. It’s important to manage the disease in an integrated way so without proper fertilization and nematode control, the plant will be weak. If you fertilize on time, the plant will have sufficient leaves.
“After a certain period, there will be very little disease pressure because we are not allowing the fungus to reproduce.
“Farmers need to understand that they must de-leaf. there must be no dead leaves hanging. You must de-leaf.”
CARDI’s Regional Project Coordinator, Sharon Jones advises, “Only Stage 1 and Staeg 2 can be sprayed and controlled with a fungicide; other than that, you’re just wasting your money and polluting the environment.
“Stages 4, 5 and 6 need to be pruned off the plants because by removing that inoculum level in the field, you’ll find that as the months pass, you will be removing less leaves and your plants will grow stronger because you are fertilizing them, therefore they are shooting leaves.”