Intermittent showers in most parts of Punjab and Haryana dissipated foggy conditions and provided relief from the cold, but agriculture experts said the prevailing weather conditions could have an adverse affect on the wheat crop.

Dr Indu Sharma, director of the local Directorate of Wheat Research (DWR), said the unexpected climate change and high humidity was conducive for yellow rust. “Yellow rust spreads in saturated humidity, mist, rain and low temperature. Farmers should be alert,” she said.

Six cases of yellow rust have been detected in Yamunanagar district. Out of the six cases of yellow rust, two were of HD-2967 variety and one each in HD-2894, Puskar-67, Super-172 and Barbat varieties. “It is yet to be ascertained whether these six cases were of old or new race. “We will send the samples to the Shimla lab to determine the race,” she said.

Sharma said the situation was under control and there were no reports of wheat rust in the state. “Farmers must keep vigil in their fields to stop the spread of yellow rust,” she said.

Sharma advised farmers to ensure proper drainage in the fields. “Rainfall leads to water accumulation that could damage the standing crop. This can be prevented with proper drainage,” she said.

Showing concern about the Yamuna belt, she said humidity was the main reason for the spread of yellow rust. Most farmers in Yamunanagar have planted wheat in the shade of trees such as poplar, which blocks sunlight and increases humidity.

She said rain over the last two days had caused leaves of some wheat plants to show signs of yellowing, but farmers need not worry. “Yellowing of leaf is not always due to yellow rust. Farmers are advised to run this check for yellow rust: Touch the leaf with your finger or a white cloth. If yellow colour appears on the skin or cloth, only then it’s yellow rust. Once confirmed, spray the crop with fungicide,” said Sharma.

She said farmers could contact the nearest research centre or Agriculture Department office in case of doubt. Crops must be sprayed immediately with Propiconazole to avoid the further spread of wheat rust in clear weather, she said.

Farmers are advised to visit their fields regularly and inspect plants for stripe rust. “They should pay special attention to the early sown crop,” the director said.

One-minute test

Yellowing of leaves doesn’t necessarily signify a yellow rust attack. Leaves may show signs of yellowing due to the weather conditions. Experts suggest a simple test: Rub the leaves of the wheat plant between your fingers or on a white cloth. If it leaves behind yellow colour, it is wheat rust. Once confirmed, spray fungicide

Do’s & don’ts
  1. Visit fields regularly and inspect crop, especially early sown crop, for stripe rust
  2. Ensure proper drainagein fields as water accumulation could damage the standing crop
  3. Avoid planting wheat in the shade of trees as it blocks sunlight and increases humidity

Source: The Tribune