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Thursday, December 02, 2021

Saturday night’s heavy rain, hailstorm damages crops, likely to delay paddy harvesting in Punjab by 4-5 days

Between October 1 and October 23, Punjab had received 13.8 mm of rainfall, on the night of Saturday the state received 16 mm of rainfall

Written by Anju Agnihotri Chaba | Jalandhar |
Updated: October 25, 2021 2:40:49 am
Crop damage in Amritsar and Gurdaspur due to hail storm and heavy rain. (Express)

Heavy rains, coupled with hailstorms and strong winds in some places of Punjab, have not only delayed the harvesting of paddy by 4-5 days but have also caused major damage to the crops, particularly basmati, in various districts. The late October rainfall is also likely to pose a major challenge to paddy stubble management owing to delay in harvesting, the 20-25 day ‘window period’ between paddy harvesting and wheat sowing in Punjab is likely to shrink further.

Overall the state has recorded 16 mm rainfall on the night of October 23 alone. Before that, On October 24 the overall rain recorded in the state was 29.5 mm. The normal rain required in October (till October 24) is 8.1 mm in the state, data said. Punjab has so far received 264% more rain this month, out of which 197% was received just last night.

According to Indian Meteorological Department’s Chandigarh office, a majority of districts in Punjab recorded between 10 mm to 20 mm. Some districts — like Jalandhar (43 mm), Gurdaspur (42 mm), Ropar (40 mm), Pathankot (38 mm), Ferozepur (29 mm), and Nawanshahr (24 mm) —received the highest rainfall last night.

Experts said that no rain is needed during the paddy harvesting as it leads to several problems, like loss in yield due to lodging, and high moisture content in the crop.

The main paddy crop in the state is generally harvested between October 1 to October 25, while the ideal time for wheat sowing is from November 1 to November 15. But this year due to the delayed withdrawal of the monsoon in the month of October against September, paddy harvesting has got delayed.

“In Moga, just 10% paddy harvesting has taken place till date because the farmers here grow Pusa-44, a long duration variety which will be reaped only from October 20 onwards. Now, last night’s rain has delayed the harvesting further and the wheat sowing period is due in just another week,” said Chief Agriculture Officer of Moga, Dr. Balwinder Singh, adding that some lodging has taken place in basmati fields too.

Officials in Punjab’s Agriculture Department said that managing stubble is already a challenge in the state and now the delayed harvesting further will pose a major threat of stubble burning management because farmers cannot compromise on late sowing of wheat. “Combine harvesters cannot be taken into the fields for 4-5 days now and we will have a very tight space to manage the stubble. We can expect huge fields fires during the wheat sowing season in November,” said a senior officer in the Punjab Agriculture Department, adding that managing stubble on millions of lakh hectares is not an easy task in such a small period of time.

“Farmers do not want to burn stubble as they themselves suffer the most. The government should understand the causes behind this rather than just penalising farmers for stubble burning,” said farmer Davinder Singh of Sultanpur Lodhi in Kapurthala. He added, “We will not be able to harvest paddy now by the end of this month and then we will sow wheat immediately after clearing the stubble because delay in sowing means loss of yields of up to 1-2 quintals per acre.

Farmer expert and retired engineer, Ranbir Singh Randhwa from Punjab Agriculture Department, said that Ajnala and Ramdas areas of Amritsar have witnessed hailstorms, which have damaged the basmati 1121 variety. Later varieties of paddy (non-Basmati) have also been delayed.

Nirbhey Singh Dhudike of Kirti Kisan Union said that the hailstorm has damaged crops across various districts and now the government should get the assessment of the damage done to compensate the farmers accordingly.

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