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Preserve karnal bunt disease-free seed of wheat for next year: PAU urges farmers

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15 May 2023, Punjab: Experts of Punjab Agricultural University (PAU) have advised the farmers of Punjab to preserve the Karnal bunt disease-free seed of wheat for the next year. Dr PS Sandhu, Head, Department of Plant Pathology, said that the newly recommended wheat varieties PBW 826 and PBW 766 have shown excellent results in terms of yield which is 2-3 quintals higher as compared to other varieties. While preserving the seed for the next year, it was important for the wheat seed to be free from Karnal bunt disease, he stressed. Referring to its symptoms, he told: “Karnal bunt is a fungal disease which is seed as well as soil borne. The pathogen infects only few grains in the ear heads or few parts of grains turn into black patches which if rubbed with hands give unpleasant smell. Such a seed is conducive for the spread of the disease.” “The affected portion of the grain is converted into mass of the fungal spores. At the time of harvesting and threshing, millions of these spores fall and get added in the soil. These spores remain viable for two to three years in soil. The infected seed serves as source of inoculum in the disease cycle and upon germination may bring the spores to the soil surface,” he explained.

Dr Amarjit Singh, Senior Extension Specialist (Plant Pathology), appealed to the farmers to select only disease-free seed to check the further spread of disease. “This can be done by soaking a handful of seed in ordinary water for few minutes. Then take out the seed and spread it on the white paper. If 4 to 5 seeds are found infected with Karnal bunt, do not preserve it,” he advised. It is vital to follow the recommendations to keep the seed of the new wheat varieties free from Karnal bunt disease, he added.

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