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    Fingal disease infected thousands numbers of apricot trees in lower Chitral

    By Zahiruddin

    CHITRAL; The attack of fungal disease has infected thousands of apricot trees in Lower parts of Chitral  which resulted in the fall away of fruits from the twigs, turning of the leaves into red or purple color with a number of small holes on it.

    A farmer from Chitral town, Riaz Ahmed told Chitral Times that more than one hundred plants have withered away partially and equal number of them have been infected showing the initial symptoms of the leaves turning red and appearing of holes.

    He said that the disease has attacked the area one month ago and is spreading gradually from one tree to another while in the initial stage, they did not take the process seriously as it in the previous years, it did not taken this widespread form.

    He said that the solitary trees of apricot are less affected but those in proximity with each other get affected fast when one of them is affected and it has appalled the fruit farmers in the valley who derived a large source of their sustenance from selling its fruit in the market.

    He said that apricot is a popular fruit in Chitral and there is hardly any household where its tree has not been grown to get the fruit in the season which is also stored by dehydrating it for consumption in the winter season while dried apricot (locally called chamber) is marketed in large quantity and it is also sent as gift to the down country.

    When the Deputy Director of Agriculture Department, Rafique Ahmed was contacted, he named the disease as shot hole which was a fungal disease caused by the high rate of humidity in the area for a longer period of time due to frequent rainfall.

    He said that as the valley is persistently receiving rainfall for the last so many months with less number of sunny days in the season in Chitral which provided congenial environment for the fungus to develop.

    He asked the farmers to spray the unaffected trees with anti-fungus medicines for which canriotop mixed with shincar have  been found to be highly affected so that the spores from one tree could be contained from speading to  the others which had a high rate of transmission.

    Shahzad Ayub, agriculture officer of the department said that the partially dried trees infected by this disease will recuperate during the next season as the fungus vanished during the winter season.

    He advised the farmers to safely dispose the fallen trees and leaves of the infected trees which can affect the tree in the next season when they decomposed  in the vicinity of the tree as they carried some spores of the fungus.

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