‘Wheat blast’, a fungal disease that attacks the standing crop, has been reported in a few pockets in Nadia and Murshidabad districts of Bengal. According to an official with the Indian Council for Agricultural Research (ICAR), the wheat blast disease was reported in a couple of places a few weeks back in Nadia and Murshidabad districts. However, it is unlikely to cause any major damage to the standing crop harvesting of which will commence within a next few weeks.
“The disease has entered our territory from Bangladesh, especially in the bordering districts of Bengal. However, in most of the parts of Bihar and Bengal, farmers sow the HD 2967 variety, which has in-built capacity to deal with the fungus,” Trilochan Mohapatra, director general of the ICAR, told FE.
The agriculture department of Bengal has commenced destruction of the standing wheat crops impacted by wheat blast to prevent fungal spores from spreading to other key growing areas. Agricultural scientists have stated that there is no cause for concern and the standing crop across the country has been not impacted.
“The weather condition prevailing is conducive for wheat crops, we are all set for good harvest this season,” KV Prabhu, joint director (research) at the Indian Institute of Agricultural Research (IARI), said.
As per the agriculture ministry data, wheat has been sown on 31.78 million ha in the current rabi season (2016-17), 5% more than the average area for the last five years.
According to the second advance estimate, the wheat output is likely to be a record 96.64 million tonne.
Last year, the outbreak of ‘wheat blast’ was first reported in South Asia – in some of the fields of Bangladesh. The disease had impacted 15,000 ha in that country, with crop losses averaging 25-30% and reaching 100% in some of the places. The disease is essentially caused by the fungus, Magnaporthe oryzae pathotype Triticum (MoT), and it was first discovered in Brazil in the mid-1980s. The wheat blast is a major constraint to wheat production in South America.
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Meanwhile, the occurrence of the yellow rust disease that affects wheat crop usually in norther regions has been limited this year.
Karnal-based Indian Institute of Heat and Barley Research has said, “Sporadic and limited incidence of yellow rust of wheat has been seen on variety HD 2967 in Punjab on December 29 and in Jammu on January 5. No yellow rust was in the states of Haryana, western Uttar Pradesh, Rajasthan, foothills of Himachal Pradesh and the tarai region of Uttarakhand.”