Despite inclement weather conditions during the wheat-harvesting season, Amritsar district is heading towards an all time (since 2000-01) high yield of the crop, which may surprise agriculturalists but not the staff of the agriculture department who were expecting a high yield this year.
The experiments for calculating the yield per hectare have begun, and so far the results of 21 experiment plots have come in at the office of the chief agriculture officer (CAO) here on Monday. A total of 118 experiment plots have been earmarked for calculating the district's average wheat yield this year.
The results obtained from 21experiment plots put the average yield of wheat at 50.11 quintal per hectare. Rough calculations of the agriculture department point out that after calculating the yield for all 118 plots, the yield will touch the 50 quintals per hectare mark.
According to the norms, the yield is calculated from randomly selected plots in different parts of the district. Each plot is of one 'marla', which is earmarked by the revenue department. The number of experiment plots varies from year to year.
Commenting on the yield, CAO Dr Dilbagh Singh Dhanju told HT, "We will touch the 50 quintal per hectare mark for the first time since 2000-01. This will cross the 46.83 quintal per hectare record of 2001-02 after the experiments are over." In 2010-11, the average yield was 42.83 quintal per hectare.
Asked about the reasons for the good yield, Dhanju said, "The weather remained conducive, particularly during the months of February and March. The winter got prolonged, as a result in February and March when the milking of the wheat grain takes place, low temperatures helped in good and healthy grain formation. In the last couple of years, we have been experiencing fairly high temperatures in these two months which affected grain formation. The wheat crop looked good in the fields last season or even prior to that, but the grain formation was hit."
The other reasons Dhanju gave for the high yield was seed replacement by the farmers, followed by seed treatment with fungicides prior to sowing. Then the farmers adhered to recommended agricultural practices and timely control of diseases like yellow rust through recommended sprays.
Regarding dust storms and rain that lashed the district during the harvesting, he said that normally when the crop is ripe, rains do not do much damage to the standing crop. Rains do delay harvesting for a day or so, but with combine harvesters available, the timely clearance of the crop from the fields does not affect the yield.
"Hail storms are dangerous, but luckily, we did not see this type of weather. Rains do increase the moisture content in the grain, but then, farmers are advised by the procuring agencies to bring dry grain to the mandis," he added.
The area under wheat this season was 1.89 lakh hectares in the district.