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May 28, 2010

Stripe Rust Threat to Wheat Crop Worse Than First Suspected

Wheat attacked by Yellow Stripe Rust
Photo courtesy of USDA ARS
The wheat stripe rust also known as yellow rust (Yr) is causing an epidemic that could cause billions of dollars in crop losses across North Africa, the Middle East and Central Asia.

Key cereal production regions around the world are impacted.  Critically impacted areas include Iran, Iraq, Morocco, Afghanistan, Algeria, Syria and Tunisia.  In Syria, the damages is severe with up to 80 percent of fields suffering from the rust.  According to Maarten Van Ginkel, deputy-director general for research at the International Center for Agricultural Research in Dry Areas (ICARDA), "[t]he situation is severe, some farmers will suffer 30–60 per cent yield loss. In the worst cases, yield loss is 100 per cent."

Yellow rust is different from the reddish brown fungus, Ug99, which is a type of stem rust that emerged in East Africa ten years ago.

"Newly developed, resistant varieties of wheat are already available. But national research programmes must accelerate the process of releasing these varieties for cultivation and producing and distributing enough seeds from these varieties."

For more see: Kanj, Safaa.  "Stripe rust threat to wheat worse than predicted," SciDev.Net, 28 May 2010.

About Margaret

CEO and Curator (The Food Museum) | Managing Director and Chief Editor (GR2 Global LLC) | Educator (UCLA PhD) | Researching and writing on global food issues, nutrition and health, sustainability, history (preservation), conservation (natural resources), and design.
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