Cotton farmers of the region are worried again, this time for wheat. The sudden rise in temperature threatens the yield of the rabi crop sown in the area that was under the fibre crop last season.
In Punjab, the last plucking of cotton bolls overlaps the wheat-sowing season in November and December. Often, cotton farmers delay the sowing of wheat. Grains of the late-sown wheat mature late.
In the year 2011-12, south Punjab had put 5.5 lakh hectares under cotton cultivation. As expected, most cotton farmers preferred to sow wheat only after the cotton was harvested. However, the rise of two to three degrees in temperature in a few days now threatens the grain size of the wheat sown late.
Sudden heat will have less effect on the wheat sown in the fields that were under paddy cultivation last season. Paddy harvesting does not overlap the wheat-sowing season. "Low temperature is crucial to high yield of wheat. The cooler the better," said Baljinder Singh, agriculture development officer, Bathinda. "Late sown wheat cannot stand weather change."
"For the past many days, the minimum and maximum temperature has been above normal," said Rittu, weather expert at Punjab Agricultural University (PAU) regional centre in Bathinda. "We expect a maximum temperature of not above 33°C these days but it is 35°C already."
"Farmers going by the instructions of the PAU will be safe largely from the rising temperature," said Dr Jaspal Gill, director of the PAU regional centre in Bathinda. "Plants have the capacity to adjust to the changing temperature, but sudden rise in heat does affect the late sown wheat a little."
Cotton farmers have suffered huge economic loss because of rain and storm last season. Now heat has come to hurt their wheat hopes. "I sowed cotton on 4 acres and paddy on 2 acres last season," said Balwinder Singh, farmer at Ghudda village. "I am more worried about wheat that was sown late in the fields that were under cotton before. I wish winter had stayed for longer."