Common Arecanut Betel nut plant diseases and how to manage them

Common Arecanut / Betel nut plant diseases and how to manage them?

Areca nut belongs to the category of straight trunked trees with a height of up to 30 meters and a diameter ranging from 25 to 40 meters. The average life span is up to 60 years and some species can reach 100 years. Arecanut is affected by many diseases from root to fruit throughout its growth period. These diseases can significantly impact yield and fruit quality.

Fruit Rot Diseases

It is caused by the fungus. It more during the monsoon season. Rotting and heavy shedding off fruits are the characteristic symptoms. Look out for initial water-soaked patches near the base of developing nuts. These patches expand, causing the entire fruit to rot and fall prematurely. In severe cases, white fungal growth might appear on the nut surface. This disease causes the developing fruits to turn brown and fall off the tree prematurely.
Avoiding water logging in the field will preserve your arecanut plants from fruit rot. Making the environment drier makes it less conducive to fungus development. Fruit Rot spreads with strong winds and rain. If contaminated, gather and burn falling infected nuts to prevent their spread. Use clean cultivation practices to clear dirt and fallen leaves. In extreme situations, a fungicide may be essential. Bordeaux mixture 1% applied before the monsoon and again 40-45 days later can be beneficial in extreme situations.

Foot Rot (Anabe Roga)

It is caused by the fungus Ganoderma lucidum which leads to the death of areanut plants. In early stages of the diseases, the outer leaves turn leaves yellow and leading to wilting eventually. As the disease progresses, the yellowing spreads, and ultimately all leaves dry up and fall off, leaving a bare stem. At the basal portion of the stem shows brown discoloration with a dark fluid oozing out. Bracket-shaped fungal structures called “anabe” may appear at the base of the trunk. Roots become brittle, discolored, and eventually die.

Avoid overcrowding the arecanut plants and ensure good drainage. Practice clean cultivation techniques and destroy infected trees and stumps completely to prevent further spread. Neem cake application (2kg/palm/year) helps in disease management. Digging trenches around infected palms can help prevent root contact with healthy trees. Drenching the base of the palm with 1% Bordeaux mixture at regular intervals can be helpful in some cases. However, due to the nature of the disease it’s better to prevent by maintaining distance between the plants and monitoring the plants.

Yellow Leaf Disease

Symptoms include yellowing tips on a few leaflets in the outermost whorl. Brownish necrotic streaks appear along the veins of the unfolding leaves. The yellowing extends to the centre of the leaf, and the tips dry off. In later stages, all leaves become yellow, and the crown leaves finally fall off, leaving a naked trunk. The disease may also cause blackening and rotting of the root tips.

To maintain tree health, ensure sufficient nutrients and correct any shortages. Planting resistant types such as “True Mangala” and “South Kanara” might be beneficial. In rare circumstances, administering more potassium and magnesium than suggested might be advantageous. However, a soil test is recommended to identify the particular nutrient requirements.

Bud Rot

Similar to Mahali, Bud Rot is caused by the fungus Phytophthora arecae. However, it attacks the palm’s central growing point. The first sign is a change in color of the spindle leaf from green to yellow and then brown. Infected young leaves rot, and the growing bud itself rots, eventually leading to palm death. The affected young leaf whorl can be easily pulled off. Outer leaves also become yellow and droop downwards, leaving a bare stem.

Follow the same preventative measures as recommended for Mahali (foot root) disease, such as good drainage and proper pruning. Destroy and remove dead palms and bunches affected by Mahali. Drenching the crowns of healthy palms surrounding affected areas with 1% Bordeaux mixture can help prevent further spread.

By following these practices, Arecanut farmers can minimize the impact of diseases and ensure a healthy and productive crop. Early detection and intervention are crucial for managing Areca nut diseases.

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