Wheat stem rust hits Iran
A deadly strain of wheat stem rust (Puccinia graminis tritici) has hit Iran's wheat fields. The country has six million ha of the crop, according to the International Center for Agricultural Research in Dry Areas (ICARDA). The Ug99 strain had already extended from its source in Africa to Yemen (Agrow No 513, p 16). It has grown resistant to previously-resistant varieties. ICARDA director general Dr Mahmoud Solh believes that the disease will spread beyond Iran to the Mediterranean region, including Europe, and towards southern Asia. The ICARDA sees new wheat varieties as the answer to controlling the disease. Many of the farmers, whose crops had already been impacted, cannot afford pesticides, researchers say. Researchers have set up an early warning system to check its spread.