After Covid-19, yellow rust attack adds to Punjab farmers’ woes
Warning by a Punjab Agricultural University (PAU) expert of a yellow rust threat to the rabi crop yield as added to the worries of Punjab farmers grappling with labour shortage due to the coronavirus outbreak. Experts, however, have said the disease is not likely to progress further and advised people against pesticide use.
Yellow rust, a fungal disease which turns the crop’s leaves yellowish, stopping photosynthesis and leading to a drop in wheat crop yield, seems to have appeared
merely 10 days after a hailstorm caused widespread crop damage across the state, particularly in the Malwa area.
Confirming the attack, PAU scientists say they have been surveying the wheat crop and advising farmers on disease management.
Dr Narinder Singh, head, department of plant pathology at PAU said due to the prolonged cold spell yellow rust attack had been reported inalmost all Punjab districts on susceptible varieties such as WH 711, HD 2967, HD 3086 Barbet, Champion, Shriram 1734, HD 2851 and others.
“Recently, many queries and reports are coming from districts Sangrur, Mansa, Muktsar Sahib, Barnala, Bathinda, Fazilika and Ferozepur regarding the incidence of the disease and its management, “ said Dr Singh.
As the wheat crop approaches maturity and with rising temperatures, telial stage (one stage in the life cycle of the fungus) yellow rust fungus is appearing on the infected plants and the disease will not progress further. The farmers therefore are requested to not panic and avoid spraying any fungicide at this stage,” he added.
Sprays inflate production costs and are also harmful for the soil and people’s health.
“Yellow rust was first detected in two Anandpur Sahib villages in January and its spread was neutralised at an early stage. But due to prolonged winter it managed to spread,” said Dr Singh.
Normally, fungal disease remains active in hilly areas where wheat is sown during the summer, but it hits the plains, especially Punjab, Haryana and Uttar Pradesh in winter, the PAU expert said.