Stormy weather across key food-bowl states, including Punjab and Haryana, on Saturday has fuelled concerns about a likely impact on ripening winter crops amid an ongoing agrarian crisis.
Officials in these states said they were still taking stock but hailstorms would have damaged some wheat, the main winter staple.
One farm expert said showers at the harvesting stage were “unfortunate”.
“Widespread rains in Punjab and Haryana due to western disturbances have brought the temperature down by at least four degrees. The showers will continue on Sunday but the intensity is likely to be less. The wind velocity is a cause of concern for wheat farmers,” meteorological department director at Chandigarh, Surinder Pal, said.
The weather pattern is likely to spread to central states such as Madhya Pradesh, a big grower of wheat.
A separate advisory from the India Meteorological Department called for immediate harvest operations, where possible. Last year, three spells of similar weather between February 28-March 2, March 7-8 and March 14-16 flattened crops in about 10 million hectares in around 150 districts, or about a quarter of the country. A back-to-back drought has already shrunk farm incomes, triggering rural duress in many parts.
Heavy rain was recorded in Bathinda, Mohali, Ropar, Jalandhar, Amritsar, Moga, Ludhiana and Patiala while hailstorm was reported from Bathinda, Kapurthala, Jalandhar in Punjab and Fatehabad and Bhiwani areas in Haryana, all farm belts.
Farmers of Chogawan block in Amritsar, where 50% crop was reported to be damaged, said the 25mm rain since Friday morning and strong winds have damaged the wheat crop. Other villages suffered 25-30% damage.
Ajnala and Harsha Chhina blocks, too, suffered damage. In Gurdaspur, hailstorms lashed Bangoani, Sahari and Dula Nangal villages of Dhariwal block.
“Rains along with strong winds at this point of time are not beneficial, especially for wheat crop. It will adversely impact crop yield of early-sown varieties,” said SS Siwach, director of research at the Hisar-based Chaudhary Charan Singh Haryana Agricultural University.