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| Last Updated:12/01/2021

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Villagers come together to save 70-year-old litchi tree



Residents of a Trichy village recently came together to save a 70-year-old litchi tree, which was slowly deteriorating due to fungal attack.



Villagers of Koppampatti in Thuraiyur, many of whom are emotionally attached to the tree, decided to revive it after they noticed that the tree was fast wilting. One of them, C Mathivanan, made a post on social media urging people to come forward and identify the disease. This post caught the attention of agricultural scientists at MIT College of Agriculture and Technology, and they agreed to revive the tree.



A team from the college visited the town and found that there was rapid wilting of leaves in two branches of the tree. The team took some root samples for testing. “The tree was infected by a root rot pathogen, and it was dying a slow death,” said agriculture scientist R Manikandan, who is also a tree pathologist, adding, “The infection was spreading throughout the tree via its roots.”




A three-feet-deep trench was dug around the tree to apply fungicide solution to check the infection, he said, adding, “Besides, 150kg of neem cake was spread in the trench mixed with moist soil.”



Entomologist M Devi, who was part of the team, said that there wasn’t any insect attack but the tree got infected through its roots. “It was necessary to chop off two of the main branches, which had dried up due to fungal attack,” said A Ravi Perumal, who was also part the team.



A fungicide known as mancozeb was applied on the surface of the tree after the dry branches were removed. “This would prevent further spread of the infection,” he said.



Saying that there was over 90% chance that the tree would survive, Manikandan said that the next 10 days would be crucial for the survival of the tree.



He said awareness among public on the importance of tree has grown manifold over the years. He said people should be conscious about the condition of trees in their neighbourhood and help preserve them. “Trees cannot be grown overnight. Therefore, we decided to revive the tree and we believe that we have succeeded,” he said.




A NEW LEASE OF LIFE: Agricultural scientists said the litchi tree, belonging to the moraceae family, was infected by fungus in its roots




Source: The Times of India, 12 August 2019, Chennai.