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Pest attack alert on wheat crops in these states

Unseasonal rain and high temperatures are threatening wheat crops in the North-West and North regions of India, including the states

By Ground report
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Pest attack alert on wheat crops in these states

Unseasonal rain and high temperatures are threatening wheat crops in the North-West and North regions of India, including the states of Punjab, Haryana, and Uttar Pradesh.

According to scientists, the increased likelihood of pest attacks, including Brown Rust, Powdery Mildew, and Aphids, is a concern in the coming weeks.

The central government has issued an advisory based on consultations with various experts in the Indian Meteorological Department, the Indian Institute of Wheat and Barley Research, and state agriculture department officials.

This advisory comes after the scientists stated that the temperature was favourable for wheat crops in early March, and the risk of pest attacks was negligible, including Yellow Rust.

However, the situation changed in just one week, and the latest advisory warns of potential pest attacks, especially fungal diseases that may impact the yield and quality of grains. The advisory is based on the rising average weekly temperature, with a difference of almost 1°C in the temperature range.

What are aphids?

Aphids are small, soft-bodied insects that belong to the superfamily Aphidoidea. They are also known as plant lice, and they are a common pest of many types of plants. Aphids are found worldwide and there are over 4,000 species of aphids that have been identified.

Aphids are typically less than 1/8 inch long and are often green or brown in colour, although they can also be black, yellow, or pink. They have a pair of antennae, two compound eyes, and two tube-like structures on the back of their body called cornicles, which produce a defensive secretion.

Why do aphids damage our crops?

Aphids feed on the sap of plants using their piercing-sucking mouthparts, which can cause stunted growth, wilting, and yellowing of leaves. They also excrete a sugary substance called honeydew, which can attract ants and promote the growth of a black fungus called sooty mold.

Aphids reproduce rapidly and can form large colonies on plants. They can also transmit plant viruses from infected plants to healthy plants.

Control of aphids can be achieved through various methods, including the use of insecticidal soaps and oils, biological control agents such as ladybugs and lacewings, and cultural practices such as pruning and removing infested plants.

Furthermore, aphids can reproduce rapidly and form large populations on plants, which can cause significant damage in a short period of time. This makes it important to monitor crops for aphid infestations and to take action to control them before they cause too much damage.

Extreme weather favourable conditions for pests

The rise in temperature and potential rain and hailstorms due to western disturbances may create favourable conditions for pests. Brown Rust is a particular concern, as it can reduce grain weight, affect grain quality and quantity, and cause drought susceptibility.

A mild Brown Rust infection can reduce yield by 15%, while severe infections can reduce yield by up to 40% in a field, according to a scientist at the Indian Institute of Wheat and Barley Research.

The United States Department of Agriculture has reduced India's wheat production outlook by about 4% in its latest report. Additionally, Powdery Mildew, a fungal leaf disease that reduces yield and grain quality, may also attack crops in higher hills in the Jammu and Himachal Pradesh regions.

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