Rust reactions of commercial wheat varieties in Ethiopia and implications for management
Wheat rusts can be controlled by host resistance or chemicals. Ethiopian farmers are not widely experienced with chemicals. Sixty seven (49 bread wheat (BW) and 18 durum (DW)) non-replicated varieties were planted on 0.4 m2 plots at 22 rust hotspot locations in 2014. Kubsa and Digalu were used as susceptible checks for YR and SR, respectively. Rust severities were scored according to the modified Cobb scale. Ten YR and 12 SR hotspot locations with mean rust severities of ≥40% were used in data analyses. Kubsa had a mean 59% YR severity and Digalu, a 73% SR severity. Rust severity levels were divided into three categories, viz. low (≤35%), moderate (36-40%) and high (>40%), across locations for both diseases. The frequency of varieties with low YR severities in the BW group was 26.5%, medium 18.4% and high 55.1% compared to DW varieties at 61%, 28% and 11%, respectively. In the case of SR, both BW and DW had large proportions of entries in the high severity category at 69.4% and 72.2%, respectively. The medium and low SR severity groups were represented by 20.4% and 10.2% for BW, and 11.1% and 16.7% for DW, respectively. In summary, the top 10 widely cultivated BW and a few DW varieties categorised in the medium and high severity groups for both YR and SR, would definitely require fungicides in rust-prone areas for optimum disease control. Many cultivars released after 1974 are still cultivated indicating that susceptible varieties are only slowly replaced. Hence, development and distribution of resistant cultivars, replacement of susceptible cultivars, and training industry workers and farmers on effective field scouting and fungicide use will be paramount for sustainable wheat production in Ethiopia.