Yellow rust in wheat crop causes alarm in Punjab and Haryana

Officials play down fears, say incidence limited to 6 districts in 2 States

January 29, 2020 11:25 pm | Updated 11:25 pm IST - CHANDIGARH

A wheat plant affected by yellow rust disease.

A wheat plant affected by yellow rust disease.

The detection of yellow rust disease in the wheat crop in sub-mountainous parts of Punjab and Haryana has raised anxiety among farmers about drop in the crop's yield even as respective agriculture departments are leaving nothing to chance to ensure the spread of the disease doesn't go beyond control.

Agriculture officials from both the States have fanned out to fields suggesting farmers to adopt remedial measures to deal with the situation. In Punjab, yellow rust has been reported in a few villages of Ropar, Hoshiarpur and Pathankot districts. In Haryana, it has been detected in the wheat crop in a few villages of Panchkula, Yamunanagar and Ambala districts.

Drop in productivity

Yellow rust is a fungal disease which turns the crop's leaves into a yellowish colour and stops photosynthesis activity, which eventually could result in a drop of wheat crop productivity.

“We have received reports of yellow rust in wheat crop in a few villages of Ropar, Pathankot and Anandpur Sahib districts. It's in a very limited area that the crop has been affected as of now, but we are not taking any chances. Our team of experts has hit the fields to monitor the situation. However, at this stage it's not threatening,” Sutantar Airi, Director Punjab's Agriculture Department, told The Hindu .

The minimum temperature have been hovering around 1.6 to 3.0 degree Celsius above normal at many places in parts of Punjab during the past few days.

“After rain in the past few days, the minimum temperature had risen a bit, coupled with slightly humid conditions. However, in the next 3-4 days the minimum temperature is likely to dip,” said Surinder Pal, Director, India Meteorological Department, Chandigarh.

Pargat Singh, chief patron (Ropar) of Bhartiya Kisan Union (Sidhupur), who has sown wheat in his nearly 14-acre farm, said farmers in the region are worried as reports of yellow rust attack have emerged. “It can't be ignored as it can spread quickly and can cause severe losses in crop yield if not checked in time,” he said, adding that government should remain in a constant state of vigil to control the situation.

Wheat, the main rabi (winter) crop, is sown between late October till December while the harvesting of the crop will start from April onwards.

‘Follow advisory’

Ram Pratap Sihag, Joint Director (Agriculture) in Haryana, said the department has already issued an advisory to farmers regarding yellow rust. “The situation is not alarming. Farmers should spray their crop [with insecticides] as per the advisory to contain the attack. The recent rains in the region coupled with slight increase in the temperature and humid conditions are favourable for yellow rust,” he said.

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