After unseasonal spells of rain and hailstorm kept farmers on the tenterhook for three days, a bright, sunny day on Wednesday brought respite to them as wheat harvesting resumed in most parts of Himachal Pradesh.
Barring a few drizzles on Tuesday evening, the weather remained pleasant across the state. However, at some places, particularly in the high-altitude areas, the sky remained overcast.
As the meteorological department has now forecast clear weather for the next four days, the Chaudhary Sarwan Kumar Himachal Pradesh Agriculture University has suggested that farmers should complete the harvesting and thrashing of wheat crop this week. The HPAU’s extension education department has issued the advisory to the farmers through SMS and other means.
“As the weather in the state is expected to remain clear till May 17, farmers should completed the harvesting and thrashing work at the earliest,” the HPAU’s advisory issued on Tuesday evening said.
It has also been suggested that the farmers shift the crop to grain storages.
Though the fresh weather forecast has given a respite to the small farmers, those with the large land holdings are still jittery as their crop is still standing in the fields.
“Though the clear weather has brought relief, I am still worried as 70% of my crop is still standing in the field. We have already suffered a huge loss, and if it rains again, the condition would become worse,” said Chattar Singh, a farmer in the Sarkaghat area of Mandi district. “It will take us more than 10 days to finish the harvesting, thrashing and storing work, and we hope for clear weather till then,” he added.
The unseasonal torrential rain and hailstorms and squalls since last week had wreaked havoc on the wheat crop in the middle of the harvesting season.
The damage has been severe in the lower parts of the state, including Kangra, Hamirpur, Bilaspur, Una and Mandi, where harvesting was in full swing until last week. The farmers have assessed 20-25% loss due to lodging caused by the untimely rains and strong winds. Lodging is a term used to describe crop falling flat on the ground. Besides, the harvested crop lying in the fields was also submerged in the rainwater.
In Himachal, wheat cultivation takes up 3.3 lakh hectare area, and its annual production is around 690MT.
Kangra has the major share in wheat production, with more than 90,000 hectare under wheat. The other major wheat growing districts include Mandi, Kullu, Hamirpur, Una and Bilaspur.
Apart from the wheat crop, the unseasonal rain hit tropical fruit crops, including litchi and mango.