Cold wave damages wheat research crop

Namrata Devikar
Tuesday, 19 February 2019

“Around 3,000 wheat varieties are received from wheat growers from across India every year for testing. These samples are grown on the experimental field of this research station. Every year, around 200 samples are found to be disease resistant and the growers are informed accordingly,” said Narute

Pune: In all, 2,779 wheat varieties were received from across the country for testing at the Regional Wheat Rust Research Station in Mahabaleshwar during the current rabi season. However, these sample plants wilted in the cold wave that swept the State on February 9. Hence, experiments could not be conducted on these varieties for this season.

The research station at Mahabaleshwar is the second such station in the country other than the one at Wellington in Tamil Nadu. The station at Mahabaleshwar works under the Mahatma Phule Krishi Vidyapeeth, Rahuri and is located at Venna lake at Mahabaleshwar. The station pioneers in studying the rust disease in wheat crops. Speaking to Sakal Times, TK Narute, Wheat Rust Mycologist at the station, said this is the first time such an incident has happened.

“The Regional Wheat Rust Research Station was established in 1941 with the main objective of screening wheat varieties against the rust disease,” said Narute.

“Around 3,000 wheat varieties are received from wheat growers from across India every year for testing. These samples are grown on the experimental field of this research station. Every year, around 200 samples are found to be disease resistant and the growers are informed accordingly,” said Narute.

This year, Narute added that 2,779 samples were received. “These varieties were grown at the station with due care for the past three months. The temperature during the current season was favorable for development of the rust disease. We were in a position to record observations on the disease. However, after the record low temperature near the Venna lake, all samples got scorched. Now, that the samples are destroyed, we will not be able to inform the breeders until next year,” said Narute. 

He said the climatic conditions prevailing at Mahabaleshwar are highly congenial for development of the rust disease. Hence, the varieties are rigorously tested against the disease and the most resistant varieties are released for general cultivation to the farmers in India.

Damage to other crops
Narute said that due to the low temperature there was frost formation on other crops too.

“The frost formation caused heavy damage to strawberry and vegetables. This natural disaster caused heavy economic losses to farmers. The same scenario was observed on the experimental farm of the research station. The crop on the station farm was in grain filling stage and was scorched entirely. It caused heavy losses to the research activities of this station,” said Narute.

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