Yellow Rust resistant wheat released

Lalitpur, November 23:

The National Agricultural Research Council (NARC) has recently released a new Yellow Rust resistant variety of wheat, WK 1204, after the disease caused extensive damage to the crop last year.

Bhola Man Singh Basnet, chief of Information, Communication and Documentation Department of NARC, told this daily that the new variety was released to relieve the farmers from the nuisance of the air borne disease of African origin. The new variety has been recommended mainly for the hilly regions.

The variety was released after nine years of research on yellow rust and Basnet claimed that the variety has potentials for better yield too.

Dr Dhruba Bahadur Thapa, wheat breeder at the Agricultural Botany Division of NARC said productivity loss as high as 52 per cent by the disease last year necessitated the release of new variety.

Sindhupalchwok, Nuwakot, Kathmandu and other hilly areas are most prone to the disease, said senior scientist Thapa, adding that the crop in areas with high humidity and winter temperature between 8 to 18 degree Celsius is more susceptible to Yellow Rust.

He said the varieties currently grown by the farmers — NL 297 and RR 21 - are prone to the disease.

Last year, farmers in Melamchi of Sindhupalchowk did not harvest a single grain of wheat due to the disease. Even the straw was not healthy and hygienic for feeding to the domestic animals, they said.

Nepal produced 1.515 million metric tonnes of wheat grown in 703,000 hectares of land in 2006-07.

Thapa said a new disease called Black Rust has emerged in Yemen and scientists are worried that it too can find a way to Nepal soon.

NARC and its National Wheat Research Programme in Bhirahawa are currently doing homework to develop Black Rust resistance wheat to tackle with the situation in case the disease found a way to Nepal.