Pests and their Management

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The important pests of grapes are, flea beetles, thrips, mealy bugs and leaf hoppers.

Flea beetles: The adult beetles scrape the sprouting buds and eat them up completely after each pruning. Damaged buds fail to sprout. Insecticides like carbaryl at 0.15 percent, quinolphos at 0.05 percent, dichlorvas at 0.1 percent or phosalone at 0.05 percent are sprayed from the fourth day until the emergence of leaves.

Thrips: Thrips attack the ovaries of flowers and newly set berries and suck sap from them. The affected berries develop a corky layer and become brown on maturity. Scab formation on the berry surface is also due to thrip damage to the ovaries/young berries. Such berries are not suitable for marketing. Thrips are effectively controlled by spraying phosphamidon at 0.05 percent, carbaryl at 0.125 percent, phosalone at 0.05 percent or malathion at 0.05 percent. Prophylactic sprays of insecticides against thrips are given once in five days from the initiation of bloom to berry set.

Mealy Bugs: Mealy bugs are the most serious and problematic pests of grapes in India. Nymphs and adults suck sap from the tender shoots resulting in crinkling and stunting of the new shoots. They excrete honey on leaves and berries and sooty mold develops on the honey. Mealy bug infected bunches are unfit for marketing. Yield losses can be up to 50 percent due to mealy bug damage. Mealy bugs are hard-to-kill insects and the package of practices for their control in India is as follows:

i) Avoid spraying broad-spectrum insecticides particularly synthetic pyrethroids.

ii) Spray only dichlorvas at 0.1 percent mixed with neem oil 0.2 percent or tridemorph at 0.1 percent.

iii) Release cryptolaemus montrozieri beetles at 8,000-10,000 per hectare when the berries start softening. It is better to release a mixed population of grubs and adults rather than only adults.

Leaf hoppers: This pest has assumed serious proportions in all grape growing regions of India in recent years. The adults and young nymphs of hoppers suck sap exclusively from the lower side of the leaves. Carbaryl at 0.15 percent, fenitrothion at 0.04 percent, phosalone at 0.05 percent or quinalphos at 0.05 percent are sprayed to control this pest. A mixture of quinalphos at 0.05 percent and phosalone at 0.05 percent is more effective on the nymphs while tridemorph at 0.1 percent only is effective on the adults.

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