For farmers who haven’t begun harvesting wheat yet so that it gets more sunshine and time to mature, the weather forecast is gloomy.
Experts at the Chandigarh meteorological centre say that from Monday, more rain is expected across Punjab and Haryana.
“From April 27 afternoon or evening, rain with strong winds and hailstorms will hit the region and, at isolated places, do serious damage to any crop that’s standing. By April 29 afternoon, the weather may become calm but cloudy days may prevail,” said assistant meteorologist Vijay Kumar.
Agronomy and food scientists say that adverse weather at this stage will raise the moisture content in the grain, delay harvesting further, and render the affected stock unfit for both long storage and consumption. “Winds will result in lodging of the crop,” said former Punjab Agricultural University (PAU) agronomy department head GS Buttar. Narpinder Singh, professor of food sciences and technology at Guru Nanak Dev University (GNDU), Amritsar, said production this year was expected to be affected.
In the year 2011-12, Punjab’s wheat yield and production were highest since 2000, since the weather was favourable. “Each year since, inclement weather has disturbed the wheat crop in February and March, when the grain is in the development stage,” said senior economist Mohinder Singh Sidhu, former head of economics department at the PAU.
“If temperature is low when the crop is about to mature, it leads to healthy grain, and when it is high, the grains shrivel and the yield and quality decline. This year, both rainfall and temperature were high,” said Dr SPS Brar, senior extension specialist from the PAU department of plant breeding and genetics.