Growers urged to complete Bt cotton sowing within March

MULTAN (APP) - Agriculture experts have urged growers to complete early sowing of Bt cotton within the current month and treat it with some suitable pesticides to control sucking pest attack. The guideline came a day before the scheduled meeting of National Bio-safety Commission (NBC) that is expected to meet on March 25, Thursday, to discuss approval of Bt cotton varieties before these varieties are finally approved by Punjab Seed Council, officials said on Wednesday. A protein extracted from a bacteria, Bacillus Thuringiens is (Bt), has been infused in the DNA of cotton seed through bio-technology and this protein kills bollworms whenever they eat the plant, says a release issued by media liaison unit of Punjab agriculture department here on Wednesday. The experts suggested Bt 121 as the best option for early sowing in March for its high yielding quality and advised the growers that growers should buy seed having above 60 per cent germination strength. The Bt seed should be purchased from the registered dealers of Punjab Seed Corporation and growers should get written assurances in writing on the receipt regarding germination strength and efficacy of Bt seed, the release added. Since, the Bt gene does not control the sucking pests,growers should treat it with suitable pesticides before sowing so that the crop remains safe from sucking pests attack for at least a month after the sowing. Bt seed also needs more water and fertilizers application and growers opting for such varieties should keep in mind the availability of these resources. Growers opting for sowing after wheat harvesting were advised to select two to three Bt varieties out of the varieties including Bt-121, Bt 3701, 802, Qaim-2, MG-6, FH-113 or Sitara-8. The germination strength of Bt seeds are commonly lower than other seeds and growers should suitably increase the per acre quantity of seeds if they opt for Bt seed sowing, the release said. Growers should not apply pesticides if they notice small pests because these pests would die after eating the plant due to killer protein. However, presence of bigger size pests would mean that Bt seeds efficacy was doubtful and grower should immediately contact the agriculture officials to apply suitable pesticides, the release added. Growers should also apply suitable pesticides in case of attack by the army worm because the Bt gene does not protect the crop against this worm, the release concluded.

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