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How to Treat Dieback Disease in Neem Trees?

Neem has a number of useful characteristics, including antibacterial and antifungal ones, but these do not protect the neem trees against pests and illnesses.

Aarushi Chadha
Neem tree
Neem tree

Neem tree twigs and leaves drying up have been a common sight in Telangana and other southern states over the past few years. Twig blight and dieback disease have been identified as the illness threatening neem trees in Telangana, and it has made a significant comeback in the state this year.

According to Jagadeesh Batthula, Assistant Professor (Plant Protection) at the State-run Forest College and Research Institute in Telangana's Siddipet district, the disease is quite widespread throughout the state this season.

He told media that the dieback disease affects the leaves, twigs, and inflorescence of neem trees of various ages and results in an almost complete loss of fruit production in trees that are badly diseased.

The dieback disease was first identified in Telangana in 2019, he said, but it was initially recorded in the nation in the 1990s close to Dehradun in Uttarakhand. The sickness had diminished since it was initially discovered three years prior, but this time it returned to Telangana.

According to Jagadeeshwar, Director of Research at Professor Jayashankar Telangana State Agricultural University (PJTSAU), the fungus Phomopsis azadirachtae is the principal culprit behind the dieback disease.

How to Treat Dieback Disease in Neem trees?

The disease-affected twigs should be trimmed, according to Batthula, and then a mixture of fungicide and insecticide can be applied to them.

Alternately, a pit around the damaged tree should be dug, and water combined with a pesticide and fungicide should be put into it.

However, because the fungus is airborne, treatment efforts for the infected trees should be concentrated in a village or a residential neighborhood in metropolitan regions. He noted that the fungal spores from a neighboring tree can still harm the treated plant, even after treatment for one tree.

Jagadeeshwar further noted that spraying insecticides on large trees is a challenging undertaking because it may harm neighboring insects like butterflies and water bodies. Animals and people that use water are put in danger when water sources are contaminated. Little plants can be salvaged, he added, if they are kept in areas where they can be regularly watched.

According to Batthula, there has recently been a rise in awareness of the issue, and some NGOs have expressed interest in stepping up to address it.

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