Moderate to heavy rains accompanied by high speedy wind lashed Amritsar, Gurdaspur and Tarn Taran districts on Friday afternoon causing concern for farmers, especially for basmati growers.
Light showers would have been helpful for basmati crop, ready to be harvested before being finally cut. However, the heavy downpour, which normally does not occur at this time of the year, will hit the yield of basmati, which is by and large sown in these three border districts.
Logging of the crop will affect not only the yield but also the quality of the grain.
"We were ready for a bumper basmati harvest this year but the untimely rains will bring down the yield and the quality of grains will also be affected,"said Amritsar chief agricultural officer (CAO), Dilbagh Singh Dhanju.
The state government had encouraged farmers this year to give preference to basmati over paddy. This was primarily because basmati is less water consuming than paddy and also it brings better returns to the growers.
As the three border districts are known for basmati cultivation, a large number of farmers had taken to replacing paddy with this crop.
In Amritsar alone the acreage jumped from 86,000 hectares last year to 1.6 lakh hectares this year, the largest area under this crop in any district of the country.
While around one lakh hectares was under the high yielding 1121 variety, 6000 hectares were under the new 1509 variety in Amritsar. The highly aromatic traditional varieties were also sown by certain farmers on the demand of the exporters.
The rains have also damaged the harvested paddy lying in the open in mandis. This will increase the moisture content in the grain above the permissible limits.
Dhanju said the rain which was widespread in the border regions will also damage vegetables. A large area in the Jandiala, Majitha, Tarsika and Rayya produce vegetables.
The officials and farmers are keeping their fingers crossed as dark clouds continue to hover and there are indications of more rain at night.
Rain affects crops in Gurdaspur
Untimely rains and hail that fell in Gurdaspur on Friday doused the paddy crop brought to the mandis, especially which did not have the facility of shed, for procurement and delayed harvesting of standing crop for about a week. On September 15, heavy rains with strong winds had caused huge loss to the standing crop of paddy in the district.
Deputy director, agriculture technology and management agency (ATMA),Gurdaspur, Amrik Singh said the grains of paddy crop may get discoloured due to today's rains.