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Rain & Strong Wind Wreak Havoc on Punjab’s Wheat Crop, Farmers Fear Losses

Unseasonal rain and strong winds in Punjab have caused lodging (flattening) of wheat crops on about 1.5 lakh hectares of land, with further rain expected until Monday. The crop is only likely to recover if the rain stops by the weekend and the sun comes out next week.

Eashani Chettri
Punjab farmers are worried that heavy rains may lead to wheat damage.
Punjab farmers are worried that heavy rains may lead to wheat damage.

As the threat from high temperatures to their wheat crop has diminished, Punjab farmers have been worried for the past two days due to unseasonal rain and strong winds.

Out of the almost 35 lh (lakh hectare) of wheat-sown land in the state at this time, the crop on about 1.5 lakh lh has experienced lodging (flattening) due to winds blowing between 30 and 40 km/h. From Thursday night, they have been present in Punjab along with 11.9 mm of rain. Farmers are worried about the crop because further rain is expected until Monday.

The crop needs a clear sky and temperatures between 35 and 36 degrees Celsius to finish grain filling by the end of the month. By the second week of April, the crop would have finished maturing and drying so that it could be harvested.

Patiala (30.5 mm), Ludhiana (28.6 mm), Nawanshahr (21.1 mm), Kapurthala (20.8 mm), Barnala (19.7 mm), Sangrur (17.3 mm), and Fatehgarh Sahib are among the districts that have experienced significant rains since late Thursday (13.8 mm). More than 10 millimetres of rain had fallen in seven additional districts.

Wheat crops have reportedly experienced lodging in a region covering about 60,000 hectares between Ludhiana and Sangrur, according to reports received by the agriculture department in Punjab. Moreover, over 20,000 hectares of the crop have been recorded lodged in Gurdaspur and Bathinda, with Barnala (16,000 hectares) and Moga following (10,000 hectares).

Moreover, lodging has been recorded from a dozen districts with 1,000 to 3,000 hectares apiece. An official stated, "We are still gathering data from all regions.”

On March 16, the Punjab Agriculture University in Ludhiana advised farmers not to irrigate their crops because rain and thunderstorms/hailstorms were predicted due to a Western Disturbance system.

The wheat crop is susceptible to lodging when it is in the grain growth and filling stage. Grain-loaded plants are unable to withstand severe winds and are more likely to bend at the roots. Moreover, the crop would be unable to absorb nutrients from the soil. According to a PAU expert, the moisture in the grain can also result in fungal diseases and lustre loss.

"Rain is not necessarily a bad thing if it lowers the temperature. Nevertheless, if they also bring in the wind, that is not beneficial. Even the stuck crop can recover if the showers stop by the weekend and the sun comes out starting next week,” stated the Director of the Agricultural Department Gurvinder Singh.

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