The yield of paddy is higher in Punjab this year as compared to last year despite the drought-like situation due to insufficient rainfall.
This is the indication so far received by Amritsar agricultural department from its field experimental zones spread across the district.
According to the results from 31 experiments (or zones), the average paddy yield is 63 quintals per hectare in the district. Last year, the yield from the total 118 experiments was 58.5 quintals per hectare.
"Till now, the yield this year has been five quintals higher than last year's," chief agriculture officer Dilbagh Singh Dhanju said. "However, results from 87 experiments are awaited and only then will a clear picture emerge."
The district received 236mm of rain from June to September. Last year in the same period the
rainfall recorded was 361mm, which was favourable for sowing of paddy.
"We got around 65% less rain than normal this year," Dhanju said. "Moreover, the rainfall was not evenly distributed with most of it occurring in the latter half of September while last year it was more uniform. Rain is required most at the time of transplantation from June 10 to the end of the month. This year, that period was dry compared to sufficient rain last year."
As the monsoon was deficient, farmers pumped more water from the ground to tackle scarcity. The eight-hour assured power supply to tubewells was often erratic and hence farmers had to use diesel-operated generators for pumping out water. This escalated input costs of farmers and official figures put this at Rs 3,000 per acre.
The rains accompanied by winds in September in fact damaged the early variety paddy crop which was at the ripening stage.
The area under paddy is 97,500 hectares, up from 75,000 hectares last year. The total arrival of paddy till Sunday as per official estimates was 3.33 lakh metric tonnes compared to 3.1 lakh metric tonnes last season.
Overcast weather, a worry
Rains accompanied by high velocity winds lashed the border districts on Monday causing concern to paddy and basmati growers. The prevailing overcast conditions indicate that farmers could face a tough time as the weather is not showing signs of clearing up.
Those who have brought their harvested crop to the grain markets are worried as it will be lying in the open and rains will only add to the moisture content of the grains that buyers want to avoid. The only relieved farmers are those who have sold their crop to private traders.
The current weather is especially worrisome for basmati farmers. The rains may not cause as much damage as the winds that may flatten the ripening crop. Basmati harvesting has just started with the 1121 variety and will be followed by the traditional varieties, which mature late.