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Punjab farmers worried about wheat yield as temperature increases

Punjab farmers worried about wheat yield as temperature increases


Tribune News Service

Ruchika M Khanna

Chandigarh, February 19

Gurinder Singh, a farmer at Balial village of Sangrur, is a worried man. As the day temperatures continue to soar in February, he is worried that the yield of his standing wheat crop will fall. “We still need cooler climate for the wheat crop to grow and mature. Last year, the yield was very low because of an unusually warm March. Now, in February itself, the weather is quite warm and it is only expected to get warmer,” he said.

We are hoping that high temperature is a temporary phase, and because of cooler nights, there won’t be much impact on yield this year. — Gurvinder Singh, Director, Agriculture

He said the temperature during this week was expected to rise further, with the forecast saying that it might touch a high of 30°C. Gurinder’s concern is also shared by both the state and central governments, as well as farm experts. The government is keeping a close watch on the changing weather and planning strategies to mitigate the loss of yield that could be caused by this change in weather system. This is the second year in a row that this phenomenon is being witnessed.

For the past nearly a week, the temperature in the state has been two to three degrees above the normal. Every one degree rise in temperature causes damage to the wheat crop and affects its yield, say farm experts. This year’s wheat production in Punjab, which is the third highest wheat producer in the country, is very significant amid depleting wheat stocks in the Central pool, caused by the low wheat production and government procurement last year.

This year, the area under wheat crop is 34.90 lakh hectares. Based on the initial data, the government is expecting that the wheat production in the state would be around 167-170 lakh metric tonnes (LMT). Of this, 120-130 LMT of wheat is expected to be brought to the mandis for government purchase.

Last year, however, the wheat production had fallen sharply to 148 LMT because of heavy rain in January and abnormally high temperatures in March. The procurement from the state was a record low at 95 LMT. As global shortage of wheat continues this year too (because of the Russia-Ukraine war), a good harvest is of prime concern to the state as well as the Central government.

“We have strategised on a set of practices to be adopted by farmers in case the temperatures rise abnormally. Farmers will be asked to go in for a spray of potassium nitrogen to mitigate any loss in yield because of a heat wave. Farmers have been asked to remain vigilant about yellow rust. We are hoping that high temperature is a temporary phase and because of cooler nights, there won’t be much impact on yield,” said Gurvinder Singh, Director, Agriculture.

Meanwhile, Punjab Agricultural University too is working on new irrigation practices in case the day temperatures continue to move skywards.

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The Tribune News Service brings you the latest news, analysis and insights from the region, India and around the world. Follow the Tribune News Service for a wide-ranging coverage of events as they unfold, with perspective and clarity.

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