Occurrence of wheat rusts in Algeria and strategies to reduce crop losses
Wheat is the world's most widely grown food crop. New races of pathogens frequently overcome current resistant varieties. To address this issue Algeria has strategies for immediate action, medium term protection and long-term research efforts to develop new resistant wheat varieties. Yellow rust is a very important disease of wheat in Algeria where 60% of the wheat crop is grown under cooler high elevation climate conditions (2?C ? 15?C). Crop losses reached 80% during the 2004/2005 epidemics. Strategies adopted to reduce the risk of wheat rust are ongoing yearly surveillance, awareness, and early warning systems to farmers; and breeding and developing new varieties with high yield potential and durable resistance. Several highly resistant varieties (Tiddis, Boumerzoug, Massine, Akhamokh and Yacine) were selected and promoted following seed multiplication and commercial release. They are also widely used in crosses to improve local varieties. The newly released varieties are being distributed to farmers that grow susceptible varieties. This gene deployment will provide a natural barrier between eastern to western Algeria to intercept the major direction of air flow. Fungicide control is now routinely applied soon after rust detection or even preemptively. The level of awareness for wheat rusts across Algeria is now very high. Training among farmers for visual detection is widely promoted by plant protection and extension services. These strategies have been very effective in mitigating the threat of wheat stripe rust such that losses have not exceeded 10% over the last five years.