Friday, March 30, 2001, Chandigarh, India


M A I N   N E W S

Late rain damages crops
Prabhjot Singh
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, March 29
Smiles on the faces of farmers brought in by an upward revision of the minimum support price (MSP) of wheat by Rs 30 a quintal last week have been replaced by worries as the wheat belt of Punjab, Haryana and western Uttar Pradesh had inclement weather, including brief spells of thundershowers accompanied with hailstorms, during the past 48 hours.

Farm experts maintain that the rain, accompanied with thunder, lightning and hailstorms, is detrimental to crops. Only light rain in rainfed areas is beneficial at this stage when the wheat is ripening.

In some areas, including Himachal, Haryana and parts of western Uttar Pradesh and Rajasthan, especially the rainfed areas, which have been facing a drought-like situation, rain during the past 48 hours has brought cheer to farmers who have been, besides other things, facing an acute shortage of fodder for their milch cattle.

In Punjab, on the other hand, more than 90 per cent of the total cultivable and irrigated area is under advanced varieties of wheat. “The crop has started ripening and in another few days, the fresh produce will start arriving in the grain markets,” says Mr Mewa Singh Sonar, Director, Agriculture, Punjab.

The rain has come a little too late.

The farm experts say that the present spell of inclement weather will affect the yield. Hailstones, thunderstorms and lightning, they say, can lead to lodging, shattering and even discolouring of grain.

They maintain that overcast sky conditions and moisture in the air could lead to fungal infection and even retard grain formation.

The inclement weather, a report from Hamirpur said, has caused widespread damage to fruit and other crops. In some areas, the rain has been welcomed by forest officials and even farmers as it has brought to an end a prolonged drought-like situation.

The weatherman said that the present spell of inclement weather was because of cyclonic pressure over the North-West and might persist for a while.

The rain has been widespread. Until 8.30 this morning, Nadaun was the wettest place in the region with 68.2 mm of rainfall. Nagrota (42.8), Guler (40.2) and Sujanpur Tira (38.8) were among the wettest places in the region. Shimla (17.7 mm), Sundernagar (17.5 mm), Pandoh (7 mm), Rampur (37 mm), Kasol (14 mm), Kaho (28.2 mm) and RL (23.5 mm) were the other Himachal areas which had moderate to heavy rain during the past 24 hours.

Srinagar recorded 23.2 mm of rainfall till 8.30 this morning. Bhuntar recorded 28.4 mm of rainfall during the same period.

In the plains of Punjab, Jalandhar had 4.2 mm of rainfall, Ludhiana 3.6 mm, Amritsar 2.7 mm and Patiala 2.5 mm while Ambala had 2.8 mm and Chandigarh 5.8 mm.

Between 8.30 in the morning and 5.30 in the evening, the city recorded 3 mm of rainfall. It was during this period that rain was accompanied with a hailstorm. Ambala had 7 mm of rainfall during the same period. Strong winds and rain were continuing in the city until late this evening.

Meteorologists say that at most of the places, the rain was accompanied with high-velocity winds, duststorms, thunder and lightning while many places were also lashed by a hailstorm.

There was more damage to crops in the areas which were lashed this morning by hailstorms, intermittent showers and strong winds.

BATHINDA: The rain and hailstorm which lashed Bathinda and Mansa districts yesterday and today has done considerable damage to wheat, sarson, barley and gram. In some of the pockets, the standing crop have been flattened. The loss of crop was reported from Bhikhi and Budhlada areas of Mansa district and Rampura area of Bathinda district.

However, Mr Jaspal Singh, Deputy Commissioner, Bathinda, said that as per the report of the SDM, Rampura, the loss was not much and there was no need to order a special girdawari.

Sources said that in some of the pockets, the loss of crop was more than 5 per cent and farmers had been making efforts to drain out the rain water in their fields.

Mr Kattar Singh Jeeda, president, Northern India Cotton Growers Association, has urged the Punjab Government to compensate the farmers whose standing crops have been destroyed by the rain and hailstorm.Back

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