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Source: Mid-Day [edited]

[For] the onion farmers of Maharashtra, the monsoon season has brought disease. Much of the crop has been destroyed after being infected with a fungal disease called Anthracnose, which tends to attack plants in the spring when the weather is cool and wet. According to [farmers], the condition has worsened over the last 2 years. This year [2020], rainfall was over 200 mm, which is double [the average].

Dr Anand Kumar Singh, Indian Council of Agricultural Research (ICAR), confirmed that the onion crops in parts of Maharashtra were damaged due to the fungal attack. "As per the preliminary survey, nearly 60 per cent of onion fields were affected between September and October [2020] due to the disease," he said, adding that it was triggered by the torrential rain. "Moreover, nearly 50 per cent of the stored onions in sheds have also been destroyed, leading to tonnes of onion wastage in the affected areas."

He said that the authorities will be closely monitoring the situation. "We are equally concerned, any short supply will have a nationwide impact. We are now looking for [alternative] areas for onion cultivation." [The] Indian Meteorological Department admitted that climate change has had a strong impact on this region in Maharashtra.

[Byline: Vinod Kumar Menon]
Communicated by:

[A number of fungi have been found to be associated with the anthracnose-twister disease complex (ATDC) of onion and other allium crops. Pathogens generally include _Glomerella_, _Colletotrichum_ and _Gibberella_ species. The latter are thought to be primarily responsible for distortion and twisting of leaves. Symptoms may also include water-soaked, pale yellow spots on leaves which expand lengthwise until covering the entire leaf blade, followed by shrivelling and drooping of affected leaves. Severe crop losses of up to 100 percent have been reported due to ATDC.

The fungi survive on crop debris. Spread occurs mainly with infected plant material and by mechanical means. Disease management may include removal of infected crop debris to reduce inoculum, crop rotation, fungicides (although effectiveness may be limited), biocontrol organisms (for example _Trichoderma_) and cultural measures (reduction of moisture in the crop). Some resistant or tolerant onion cultivars are being developed.

In India, unprecedented damage to onion crops due to ATDC was also reported from Karnataka earlier in 2020 (ProMED-mail post 20200518.7351461). Globally, warming climate with accompanying changes in precipitation is being observed to alter disease patterns in many crops (for example, ProMED-mail posts 20200811.7665227, 20200731.7630206, 20200528.7391929 and many more in the archives).

India (with states):
Maharashtra districts:

ATDC symptoms on onion:,,, and

Information on onion ATDC: (with pictures),, and via
ATDC aetiology and risk assessment:, and
Fungal taxonomy and synonyms via:
- Mod.DHA]


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