Three days after a hail storm damaged wheat on 5,859 acres in Muktsar district on April 17, strong cyclonic winds and heavy showers played havoc with the crop in several districts of the state Monday. Harvesting and procurement of wheat is underway across Punjab these days, and the inclement weather conditions are expected to last another four days. The weather forecast has come as bad news for both farmers and government agencies as the state carries out a mammoth procurement operation amid the COVID crisis.
On Monday, damage to both standing and harvested wheat crop was reported from Kapurthala, Jalandhar, Patiala, Sangrur, Moga, Jalandhar’s Shahkot Area, Mansa, Ludhiana, and even Mukatsar. Experts said that Monday’s rain has come as a big set back to farmers.
“Heavy rain and hail storms are extremely damaging at this crucial stage when wheat is either being harvested or lying in mandis,” said Director Punjab Agriculture Department, Sutantra Airy. He added that the state was eyeing a bumper crop this time.
“Due to heavy rain, discolouration, fungus, overripe, dropping of grains, lodging etc. can take place and this would certainly affect the yield,” said Vice-Chancellor (VC) Punjab Agriculture University (PAU), Ludhiana, Dr B S Dhillon.
According to Director, Met Department, Chandigarh Officer, Surinder Pal, Western Disturbances from the Arabian Sea are the reasons behind this weather. He said that for the next 48 hours, the Western Disturbances would become little weak, but then again they will become strong on April 23 and 24.
A report by Muktsar’s Chief Agriculture Officer to Punjab Agriculture Department revealed that heavy rain and hail storm in the district on April 17 evening had damaged wheat on around 5,859 acres in nearly 7 villages and the damage was up to 25 per cent on 5,399 acres, up to 50 per cent on 270 acres, up to 75 per cent on 130 acres and up to 100 per cent on 60 acres across villages.
The villages that recorded this damage include Bhittiwala, Telian Wali, Kakhanwali, Vanwala, Meihina, Mitthri, Sighewal.
Two villages, Vanwala and Meihna villages, suffered the maximum damage on 3,700 acres. The report said that ready to harvest crop got hit more.
The survey of Monday’s damage will take place once the weather is clear.
Maximum damage to ready-to-harvest crop
Reports from across the state revealed that while at some places the standing crop was flattened, at others grain also fell on the ground.
“After today’s rain the chances of recovery of the green crop (late variety) are there, but there is hardly any chance of recovery in ready-to-harvest crop,” said farmer Harjinder Singh, in Malisian adding that if crop falls flat, the grain gets discolored.
Farmer Kulwinder Singh from Sultanpur Lodhi said, “We cannot harvest now for at least a week and some crop would be harvested manually due to flattening. Combine harvester will not be able to lift it.”
“After the rain, fields are not fit for mechanical harvesting and if we go for manual harvesting in such condition, it will cost us double of the amount,” said another farmer Jatinder Singh.
Punjab has 35.05 lakh hectares under wheat crop and the average yield on one hectare is 51 to 52 quintals.
Jagmohan Singh, General Secretary, Bhartiyan Kisan Union (BKU) Dakaunda, demanded full compensation as per the MSP rate for damaged crop and relaxations in the moisture and discolouring due to heavy rain during procurement.
Meanwhile, according to Punjab Mandi Board (PMB) till April 20, Punjab received 13.05 lakh metric tonnes of wheat in its grain markets across the state which is 324 per cent more than the last year’s arrival of 3.08 lakh metric tonnes during the corresponding period. The government agencies have purchased 11.34 lakh metric tonnes till date and 1.71 lakh metric of wheat is still unpurchased. Out of procured wheat, 8.20 lakh metric tonnes is still waiting for transportation from mandis to government godowns.
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