By Manjeet Sehgal: The maximum temperature in Punjab, Haryana, and Chandigarh is touching 30 degrees Celsius, which is nearly five notches above normal.
The sudden rise in winter temperature while on the one hand has come as a respite for the people, has added to the woes of the farmers.
Dry weather conditions and rising temperatures have badly hit the winter crops like leafy vegetables, peas, and onions. There are apprehensions that the terminal heat can result in shriveled grains, which means a drop in the yield.
ASH 24 News met two affected Mohali-based farmers who are fearing that the rising temperatures could damage wheat and other crops.
Daljit Singh, 55, of Azizpur village, increased the wheat crop area this year with the hope that he would recover the losses incurred last year. But the sudden rise in temperature left him worried.
“We lost the wheat crop last year due to the heat wave, long wet spell, and other natural calamities like hail storms and wind storms. Compared to 15 acres last year, I have sown wheat over an area of 20 acres this time. The rising temperature may result in reduced plant size and shriveled grains,” says Daljit Singh.
Another farmer, Gurbachan Singh, 66, who had grown other crops like onions, peas, cauliflower, and mustard, is also worried about the temperature.
“The dry spell is responsible for reduced onion size, empty pea pods, and telia attack (rust). The state government did not help us last year when the crops were damaged,” said Gurbachan Singh.
Late-maturing wheat varieties are likely to be hit
The Ministry of Agriculture and Farmers Welfare has claimed that the country may harvest 112 million tons of wheat this year, which will be 4.44 million tons higher as compared to last year. However, the MET department has hinted that the rising temperature can result in a dropped wheat yield.
Agriculture experts say that high temperatures can also mature the crop in advance.
Meanwhile, the Food Corporation of India (FCI) officials estimate that the wheat crop may ripe at least one week in advance.
The wheat procurement agencies, including the FCI, keeping and viewing the impact of the terminal heat, have already started preparations for the advance crop procurement.
“The FCI is prepared to procure the crop in advance in case the crop matures early. We have earmarked nearly 400-grain markets in Haryana besides making arrangements for the packaging and storing,” General Manager FCI Amrit Bhushan told India Today.
Additional Director of Agriculture Haryana, Dr. Surender Dahiya, told India Today that the terminal heat can only affect the late-measuring wheat varieties.
Normally, a cold temperature is considered good for the wheat crop. A sudden rise in temperatures is called terminal heat, which affects plant and grain development.
Dr. Dahiya said that terminal heat has become a regular phenomenon in many parts of the state. The farmers have been advised to sow the crops in the first week of November besides replacing the old wheat varieties with the heat-resistant varieties.
“In Haryana, the wheat has been grown over an area of 25 lakh hectares out of which wheat crop over an area of nearly six lakh hectares was sown late. In case the temperatures continue to rise, it can affect the late maturing varieties and the yield can drop by 10 to 15 percent,” Dr. Surender Dahiya said.