Gram, also known as chickpea or chana, is a staple food legume widely cultivated in India and other parts of the world. Its nutritional value and adaptability to diverse climatic conditions make it a crucial crop for food security. However, gram cultivation faces various challenges, including diseases that can significantly impact yield. Among these diseases of gram, wilt stands out as a major threat to gram production. In this blog, we will see the world wilt of the gram, exploring its causes, symptoms, and effective control measures to safeguard gram crops and ensure sustainable cultivation.

What Is Gram Wilt?

Gram Wilt

Gram wilt is a harmful disease caused by a fungus named Fusarium oxysporum f. sp. ciceri. This soil-borne fungus thrives in warm and moist conditions, making it a prevalent threat in gram-growing regions. The fungus attacks the gram plant’s vascular system, disrupting the flow of water and nutrients, leading to wilting and eventually death.

What Are The Causes of Gram (Chickpea) Wilt?

Understanding the Risks. Several factors contribute to the prevalence of gram wilt, including:

1) Warm and Moist Conditions

The Fusarium oxysporum f. sp. ciceri fungus, responsible for gram wilt, finds ideal conditions in warm and moist soil environments. These conditions promote the growth and spread of the fungus, making it more prevalent in regions with high temperatures and humidity. Warm temperatures accelerate the metabolic processes of the fungus, enabling it to multiply and spread rapidly. Additionally, moist soil provides the fungus with a suitable medium for growth and facilitates its movement through the soil profile, increasing the likelihood of encountering susceptible gram plants.

2) Continuous Gram Cultivation: A Breeding Ground for Fungal Buildup

Repeated cultivation of gram in the same field over time significantly increases the risk of fungal buildup in the soil. Because of this fungus can establish a strong growth in the soil which increases the possibility of infection in gram crops. As the fungus remains viable in the soil for extended periods, continuous gram cultivation perpetuates the disease cycle, posing a persistent threat to gram production.

3) Infected Seed Material: A Silent Carrier of Disease

The fungus can be unwittingly introduced into new fields through infected seed material. When gram seeds harbor the fungus, they act as silent carriers of the disease, spreading it to previously disease-free areas. This mode of transmission poses a significant challenge, as it can be difficult to detect infected seeds before sowing.

4) Waterlogging: Creating a Fungal Oasis

Poor drainage and waterlogged soil conditions provide an ideal breeding ground for the fungus. Excess moisture in the soil creates a favorable environment for the fungus to thrive, promoting its growth and spread. Additionally, waterlogging can weaken the gram plants’ root systems, making them more susceptible to fungal infection.

5) Weed Infestation: helps Fungal Dissemination

Weeds can play a crucial role in the spread of gram wilt by harboring the fungus. As weeds grow alongside gram plants, they can act as reservoirs for the fungus, providing it with alternative hosts and facilitating its spread to nearby gram plants. Moreover, weeds can interfere with air circulation and sunlight penetration, creating microclimates that favor fungal growth and increase the likelihood of infection.

These factors, individually and in combination, contribute to the prevalence of gram wilt and pose a significant threat to sustainable gram cultivation. By understanding these risk factors, take proactive measures to mitigate the impact of gram wilt and safeguard their crops.

Also Read: Root Fit – A Breakthrough In Soil Borne Fungal Disease and Nematode Control

Symptoms of Gram Wilt

Gram wilt Symptoms

The symptoms of gram wilt are typically evident during the flowering and pod-filling stages of the plant’s growth cycle. Key indicators of gram wilt include:

1. Wilting:

The initial and most recognizable symptom of gram wilt is the gradual wilting of leaves. This wilting typically begins from the lower sections of the plant, progressing upwards as the disease progresses. The affected leaves lose their turgidity and appear droopy and lifeless. This wilting is caused by the fungus’s disruption of the plant’s vascular system, hindering the flow of water and nutrients from the roots to the leaves, leading to dehydration and wilting.

2. Yellowing:

As the wilting progresses, the affected leaves begin to turn yellow. This yellowing is a symptom of chlorophyll degradation, which occurs when the plant is unable to produce chlorophyll due to nutrient deficiency or stress caused by the fungal infection. The yellowing leaves eventually dry up and fall off, giving the plant a scorched and withered appearance.

Vascular Discoloration

Upon cutting the stem of an affected gram plant, the internal vascular tissues reveal a dark brown or black discoloration. This discoloration is a distinct symptom of gram wilt, indicating the damage caused by the fungus to the plant’s vascular system. The fungus invades the xylem and phloem tissues, disrupting the transport of water and nutrients, leading to discoloration and eventual death of the plant tissues. The tylose formation can be seen in the vascular tissues of gram resulting in blocking in transport of nutrients and water.

Stunted Growth

Gram plants affected by wilt exhibit stunted growth. As the fungus disrupts the plant’s vascular system and nutrient uptake, the plant’s growth is hindered. This stunting is evident in reduced plant height, fewer internodes, and overall reduced biomass. The affected plants may also produce fewer and smaller pods, leading to significant yield losses.

Death: The Ultimate Consequence

In severe cases of gram wilt, the entire plant may wilt and die. This mortality is a consequence of the extensive damage caused by the fungus to the plant’s vascular system and its ability to acquire essential nutrients. As the fungus spreads throughout the plant, it disrupts the flow of water and nutrients, leading to dehydration, nutrient deficiency, and ultimately, plant death.

These symptoms serve as crucial indicators of gram wilt, enabling farmers to identify and address the disease promptly. By recognizing these signs early on, farmers can implement appropriate control measures to minimize the impact of gram wilt and protect their crops.

Gram Wilt Control Measures: Safeguarding Your Crop

Effective control of gram wilt requires an integrated approach that combines preventive measures and disease management strategies:

  1. Crop Rotation: Practice crop rotation by including non-host crops in the rotation to break the fungal life cycle and reduce its population in the soil.
  2. Resistant Varieties: Opt for gram varieties that exhibit resistance to wilt, particularly in areas with a history of the disease.
  3. Seed Selection: Use certified disease-free seed material to prevent the introduction of the fungus into new fields.
  4. Soil Management: Deep Ploughing of soil in summer and keeping as fallow for a few months this soil solarization will help to fight against wilt fungus.
  5. Weed Control: Maintain proper weed management practices to eliminate potential sites for the fungus.
  6. Balanced Fertilization: Provide balanced fertilization to strengthen plant health and enhance resistance to fungal infections.
  7. Balanced Irrigation: It’s better to give irrigation as per crop requirement, water logged soil is the reservoir for many soil borne funguses. It’s better to give irrigation at field capacity moisture level. Improve soil drainage to avoid waterlogging and create an unfavorable environment for the fungus.
  8. Fungicide Application: In severe cases, consider applying appropriate fungicides under the guidance of agricultural experts. The use of products like Root Fit at the early stage of the crop will help to control disease and avoid potential losses.

Conclusion

Gram wilt, caused by the Fusarium oxysporum f. sp. ciceri fungus, thrives in warm and moist conditions, making it more prevalent in areas with high temperatures and humidity. Continuous gram cultivation in the same field increases the risk of fungal buildup in the soil. Infected seed material can also spread the disease to new areas. Poor drainage and waterlogged soil conditions create a favorable environment for the fungus to flourish. Weeds can harbor the fungus and act as reservoirs for its spread. By adopting preventive measures, farmers can effectively combat gram wilt and ensure sustainable gram cultivation.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

  • What are the symptoms of gram wilt?

Ans: Gram wilt causes leaves to wilt, turn yellow, and eventually dry up. The stems of affected plants may also turn brown or black, and the plants may die.

  • What causes gram wilt?

Ans: Gram wilt is caused by the Fusarium oxysporum f. sp. ciceri fungus.

  • How can I prevent gram wilt?

Ans: There are a number of things you can do to prevent gram wilt, such as planting resistant varieties, rotating crops, and avoiding planting gram in fields with a history of the disease.

  • How to control gram wilt?

Ans: If your gram plants are infected with wilt, there are a number of things you can do to control the disease, such as applying fungicides like root fit and improving drainage.

  • What are the challenges of controlling gram wilt?

Ans: Gram wilt is a difficult disease to control because it can survive in the soil for many years. There is also no cure for gram wilt, so prevention is the best way to control the disease.