Due to the prevailing cloudy and cold conditions over the past few days, the Punjab agriculture department has asked farmers to monitor their fields regularly for yellow rust, a fungal disease affecting crops during such weather. Experts said the disease is controllable if noticed in time and for that regular checking of fields is a must.

Wheat varieties which are not replaced for long are also susceptible to the disease, they said. The sub-mountainous areas of Hoshiarpur, Gurdaspur, Nawanshahr and Ropar districts are more prone to this attack during the cloudy season.

Officials said farmers must inform the department immediately if they notice yellow rust. It is a fungal disease which manifests as powdery yellow stripes on leaves. These stripes hinder photosynthesis making the grain shrivel and stunting the growth of the plant.

Dr Amrik Singh, chief agriculture officer, Pathankot, said they are making farmers aware of it as it is usually noticed during this season when there is cloudy weather, low temperature and high moisture. It comes in patches and if the medicine is sprayed on that patch timely then it is controlled immediately,” he added.

“We have advised farmers that if they find any such thing on the leaves of the wheat crop, they should spray 200 ml of propiconazole fungicide with 200 litres of water in one acre of the wheat crop,” he said.

When the maximum temperature and minimum temperature are expected to remain around 16 to 20 degrees Celsius and 3 to 8 degrees Celsius respectively, such weather conditions are highly favourable for the fungal disease. Currently, the maximum temperature is 9 to 16.9 degrees Celsius in the state and the minimum is 3.8 to 8.9 degrees Celsius.

Agri experts also advise farmers not to spray any weedicide, which is normally sprayed during this time on rabi crops, until the weather is not cleared.

They also advised using only the recommended quantity of urea during the second dose. For the wheat crop, 90 kg urea is recommended in two instalments, the first dose of 45 kg is put in after 25 days of the sowing of wheat in November and the second is sprayed on 50 to 55 days old crop. Currently, it’s time for the second dose, which is also 45 kg.

“Due to cloudy weather for weeks, there is a lack of photosynthesis in the plants due to which plants are turning a little pale. And some farmers are assuming that it needs more urea and putting double the recommended second dose which is not a good practice as only recommended dose must be used and plants will turn green once sunny days are back?” said Dr Singh.

Meanwhile, wheat and other rabi season crops are in urgent need of rain, mainly in the rain-fed areas of the several districts of the Kandi belt- Hoshiarpur, Nawanshahr, Ropar, Mohali, Gurdaspur.

Indian Meteorological Department (IMD) Chandigarh director Manmohan Singh said a western disturbance is expected soon which will bring rain to several parts of the state.

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