The spreading yellow rust disease on wheat plants during extreme winter in non-Kandi (non-sub mountainous) areas has sent state agriculture experts into worry and a tizzy.
The first traces of yellow rust (marked by yellow stripes running parallel along the veins on each leaf) were found in Ramnagar village of Patiala district and Jhhallian village of Rupnagar. The disease has the potential to reduce the wheat yield over 6-lakh hectares by 50%.
It has the potential to affect a substantial area in Punjab, Haryana and Himachal Pradesh, though it's present in other parts of these states as well. As part of the combat measures, the Punjab government has sent subsidised fungicides to districts and launched an awareness campaign.
Low temperature combined with humidity and strong winds has created favourable conditions for the fungus. Agriculture secretary Kahan Singh Pannu on Thursday met all field workers of Rupnagar, SAS Nagar, Hoshiarpur, Pathankot and Nawashahr (districts in the Kandi area). They have orders to ensure vigil and the spray of agro chemicals.
He directed that the farmers should be asked to visit their field once a day and if they find any symptom of the disease then immediately they should contact the departmental officials.
The state government has supplied 2.32 lakh litres of propiconazole in the affected area to be given to the farmers at a 50% subsidized rate. All the agriculture department officers have been asked not to go on any leave and work on holidays till March 15 with a view to check spread of disease.