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A Quarter of UK’s Wheat Crop Could Be Wiped Out by New Strain of Fungus

Farmers in the UK are struggling to stay ahead of a new virulent strain of deadly yellow rust called Warrior, originally from the southern slopes of the Himalayas.

Thought to have reached the UK on clothing or transported by the wind, scientists have discovered that Warrior, which grows on leaves and chokes plants to death, has not only reached the UK, but is spreading rapidly and could have serious implications for wheat production in the region.

Diane Saunders, of the John Innes Centre in Norwich and lead author of the research published in Genome Biology, told The Independent that this is an indication of a broader issue in food production, stating, “Increased virulence, globalization and climate change are all increasing the scale and frequency of emerging plant diseases, and threatening global food supply.”

Although Warrior does respond to some fungicides, in some instances it could cut output by 25%, and many farmers and farmer associations fear that it may evolve to become resistant to these treatments in the future.

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Lynda Kiernan is Editor with HighQuest Group Media and of the Oilseed & Grain News. If you would like to submit a contribution for consideration, please contact Ms. Kiernan at lkiernan@highquestgroup.com.

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