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Plantwise Factsheets for Farmers

Wheat stem rust

Puccinia graminis f.sp. tritici Eriks. E. Henn.
Rwanda

Recognize the problem

Wheat stem or black rust appears in form of raised spots on leaves, leaf sheaths, heads and stems. The raised spots are usually brownish-red to red, dark brown, and black, hence the designation "black" rust. Infected areas are rough to the touch. The disease may cause over 70% yield loss in farmer's field.

Background

Wheat stem rust is caused by a fungus that can spread by plant-to-plant contact and by wind. Stem rust is favoured by hot days and adequate moisture for night time dews. Wind can effectively disperse the pathogen over small distances to cause local disease outbreaks within the crop or over great distances to cause new infections. Rain is necessary for effective establishment of the disease on the plant. The fungus survives throughout the year on infected wheat crops and volunteer wheat plants, barley and grass relatives. However, there are some varieties which can withstand the disease. The disease is also spread by people when they walk in the garden because the disease gets carried on their clothes.

Management

  • Grow the following resistant varieties which are available at Rwanda Agriculture Board (RAB): KS Mwamba, E161, Bisagi, Musama and E48
  • Use balanced amounts of fertilizers as follows: apply 250 kg/ha of N17P17K17 at sowing time and 100 kg/ha urea 4-6 weeks after planting.
  • Remove volunteer wheat from your garden to control wheat stem rust and other diseases
  • Remove plant residues, such as straw, stubble and weeds
  • Do not allow many people in your farm to avoid the spread of the fungus through hands, clothing, or shoes.
  • Weed regularly.
  • Grow wheat in rotation with potato and beans to reduce build-up of the disease in the soil
  • Prevent stem rust by spraying fungicides containing tebuconazole, and sprayed at booting stage. Mix 3 ml of the fungicide in 1 litre of water, and spray this mixture just before the disease occurs. The fungicide is available at local markets.

When using a pesticide, always wear protective clothing and follow the instructions on the product label, such as dosage, timing of application, and pre-harvest interval.

The recommendations in this factsheet are relevant to: Ghana, Rwanda

Authors: Bellancile Uzayisenga, Innocent Habarurema

©CAB International. Published under a CC-BY-SA 4.0 licence.

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