With day temperatures at record high this winter, the worst fears of farmers in Madhya Pradesh seem to be coming true as experts warn that wheat crop yield will be hit.
“The day temperatures have been unusually high at about 33 degree Celsius while a maximum temperature of around 26 degree is conducive for wheat at this stage. My estimate is that average per hectare yield in Nimar region will be down by 40% to 50%,” Krishanpal Singh Mourya, a farmer in Nimarkhedi village in Khandwa district, told HT.
“Last year, we got wheat yield of about 50 quintals per hectare, and this year most farmers would be lucky to get a yield of 30 quintals a hectare,” he said.
Experts say that the problem is more acute where farmers don’t have access to irrigation.
“Unusually high temperatures will impact the yield of wheat crop, but any estimate of drop in yield can be made only after a survey,” said Dr SV Sai Prasad, the head of Indian Agriculture Research Institute (IARI) Indore regional station.
Experts say farmers who have sown the crop early are in trouble while wheat sown in mid-November is in relatively better condition.
“The early sown wheat crop has seen poor tillering (vegetative growth) and in many places, farmers have uprooted the wheat crop and opted to sow maize or other crop once they realised that wheat will give very poor yield,” Samar Singh, a farmer in Bedia village in Khargone district, told HT.
In October this year, scientists had advised the farmers to go for late sowing of wheat to neutralise the effect of comparatively warmer winter in Madhya Pradesh this year.
The problem is that many farmers look at the availability of water rather than the temperatures before sowing the crop, say experts.
In Madhya Pradesh, wheat sowing usually starts from late October and the crop duration is about 120 days. According to state agriculture department data, wheat target area this year is 55.85 lakh hectares, but the actual figure could be less.
While December has seen record high temperatures, the day temperatures during October and November have also been considerably higher than normal in many parts of the state.
On the other hand, the cold wave promotes tillering of the wheat crop, which further helps in enhancing the wheat output.
Madhya Pradesh is among the top three wheat growing states of India and any drastic fall in production will hit the agriculture growth.