Technical staff of the Njoro Agricultural Research station of KARI in Kenya have completed planting a large stem rust screening trial. Ten thousand different wheat samples from more than 30 countries were planted as part of the Global Rust Initiative.
CIMMYT, ICARDA, and national partners are testing the samples to assess the world’s wheat germplasm for vulnerability to Ug99, the new and virulent form of stem rust that is now in eastern Africa. In addition, the team hopes to identify sources of potential resistance that could be used in breeding programs to produce new varieties resistant to the disease.
Past outbreaks of stem rust have destroyed up to 40% of wheat production in affected countries. The Njoro station is in the middle of Kenya’s wheat growing area near Nakuru. This region is a known hot-spot for rust diseases like Ug99, where local wheat is already infected by the fungus, and so makes a perfect test ground.
Rick Ward, co-facilitator of the Global Rust Initiative, went to Njoro to monitor the planting. The actual screening for susceptibility will take place in late August or September, when the wheat plants mature.