The UN’s Food and Agriculture Organization said it had launched a website to track and help prevent the global spread of wheat stem rusts including Ug99, a devastating strain that poses a global threat to production.
About 90 per cent of wheat varieties around the world lack resistance to the deadly wind-borne fungus that destroys the cereal, posing a risk to global production and security of food supplies, according to industry officials.
The Rome-based FAO said June 2 there were concerns the fungus could march across Africa and head toward South Asia.
“Emergence of the Ug99 races in East Africa transformed stem rust from a disease largely under control into a significant global threat,” David Hodson, FAO’s international key point for wheat rust disease, said in the statement.
FAO said its new website aims to deliver up-to-date information on the status of wheat stem rust, monitor important new strains of the disease and provide easy access to reliable data on a global scale.
Winter wheat harvest underway
The onset of U. S. winter wheat harvest is bringing mostly good news for farmers, millers and bakers with talk of bountiful yields of good quality. “Most of them (farmers) are optimistically happy. The crop is looking better than it has been in a few years,” said Kansas State University agronomist, Bill Heer.
USDA last month estimated that 2010 winter wheat production would total 1.458 billion bushels.