Comparatively higher temperatures during the ongoing winters have become a cause of concern for the wheat-growers in Punjab and Haryana with experts fearing productivity loss if mercury continues to remain this way.

Besides, experts also fear fast spread of yellow rust - a fungal disease on wheat crop due to warmer winter conditions - which turns crop's leaves' yellowish and stops photosynthesis.

"Temperatures at the moment are high. If they continue to remain high then there can be productivity loss in wheat crop," Karnal-based Indian Institute of Wheat & Barley Research, director, Indu Sharma told PTI today.

Minimum temperatures in the most parts of Punjab and Haryana are hovering around 5-6 degrees above normal.

"The minimum temperatures should remain lower (than what is now) at this stage for better yield of wheat," she said.

She also expressed concern the higher temperatures would also increase the chances of the attack of yellow rust.

"There are very high chances of the spread of yellow rust at this moment as multiplication rate of fungus go up due to higher temperatures," she warned.

The disease appears as yellow-coloured, powdery linear stripes on the leaves. When touched with fingers the yellow-coloured spore mass sticks to the fingers, which is a conspicuous criteria for disease identification.

If not checked in time yellow rust can cause tremendous losses in yield, experts said.

Yellow rust has already been spotted at Anandpur Sahib, Nanbal in Punjab, Kangra, Una in Himachal Pradesh and Yamunanagar in Haryana.

Indu advised wheat-growers to be alert, regularly inspect crop and spray recommended fungicides to prevent damage due to this disease.

"Rust has hit HD 2967 and HD 3086 wheat varieties," she said adding advisories are being issued to growers to remain cautious of yellow rust.

Ludhiana-based Punjab Agricultural University (PAU), dead, department of plant pathology, PS Sekhon advised farmers in the sub-mountainous areas to constantly monitor their wheat crop.

Scientists have suggested farmers to apply fungicides such as Tilt 25 EC or Shine 25 EC or Bumper 25 EC or Compas 25 EC or Stilt 25 EC in 200 litre of water per acre.

Punjab and Haryana, two agrarian states, grow wheat over an area of 35 lakh hectares and 25 lakh hectares respectively.

Source: January 10, 2016, The Economic Times