MULTAN  - Agriculture experts have advised farmers to closely monitor wheat crop at delicate growth stage of grain formation and warned them to beware of Aphid attack and Rust disease that had caused reduction in wheat production last year in Punjab.

Wheat is a main food crop that meets 75 per cent of our domestic food requirements and experts believe farmers should be vigilant in crop care to ensure that the country should meet target of 19.5 million ton wheat, says a release issued by the media liaison unit of Punjab agriculture department on Friday.

According to a recent report of pest warning and quality control of pesticides, Aphid attack was witnessed on wheat crop in some area while the Leaf Rust disease traditionally called ‘Kungi’ was also observed in some other areas last year in Punjab.

Rust diseases, in case of finding suitable weather conditions, can also shift to other wheat varieties having no or low resistance against the disease.

The spokesman warned that this disease could reduce per acre production of wheat by upto 50 per cent.

Three kinds of Rust or Kungi disease were witnessed on wheat crop last year, including Brown Rust, yellow Rust, and Black Rust as temperature ranging from 20-25 Celsius is suitable for Brown Rust, 10-20 C for Yellow Rust and 20-35 C for Black Rust.

UG-99, a dangerous kind of Black Rust, has already reached Iran from Yemen and there are apprehensions that it might reach Pakistan. This disease’s attack causes emergence of brown and black dots on leaf and trunk which later burst and deliver black powder.

The spokesman said the provincial government was taking steps to save crops from adverse impact of changing weather behaviour and had already distributed healthy wheat seed free from Rust disease among selected farmers free of cost.

By virtue of this initiative, farmers would be able to get wheat seed having resistance against Rust next year, the release said.

Experts said farmers should closely monitor wheat crop at grain formation stage and apply suitable anti-fungus spray after consulting agriculture officials upon noticing Rust disease.

To counter Aphid attack, farmers should spray cold water on crop and increase population of friendly pests to control the problem through biological means.