Farmers in the district have started harvesting short-duration varieties of paddy, PR 111 mainly. About 30,000-quintal paddy had arrived already at Kotkpaura by Wednesday, which was fourth day of crop arrival at the grain market.
The short-duration paddy matures in about 138 days, and farmers can expect satisfactory yield. "I have grown paddy on 6 acres and I expect to get about 28 quintal yield from each acre," said Balwinder Singh, a farmer from Wander Jatana village. "Because of less rain, the produce was not as good as it could be, but it was safe, largely, from pests and fungus; and the late showers helped as well."
Balwinder's fuel expenses nearly doubled. Last year, I had used about 400 litres of diesel to run a pump to irrigate the crop on about 7 acres, and this year, he burned 800 litres of diesel to get the crop ready. He put in an unnecessary high dose of fertilisers (150-kilogram instead of 110-kg urea per acre; and 50-kg diammonium phosphate (DAP)) and pesticides (5 kg of cartaphydrochloride, twice the recommended amount) in the soil.
Choosing between PR 111 and Pusa 44
Another farmer, Charnjeet Singh of Bajakhana cultivated PR 111 rice on 30 acres. "I do farming on about 80 acres," he said, "of which on 50 acres, I grow the Pusa 44 variety, mainly." Given a choice between PR 111, which Punjab Agricultural University (PAU) in Ludhiana recommends, and Pusa 44, which the university does no recommended, he will go for Pusa 44, counting its high-yield prospect as a factor.
"Pusa 44 can give me about 34-quinal yield per acre at best, even though it takes about 25 more days to mature when compared with PR 111. "It is also more prone to fungus and insect attacks," he said, "But if the yields expected is only 30 quintal, PR 111 is the better option because it matures earlier and is resistant to fungus and pests."
The PAU observation is that the average per acre yield of PR 111 is about 27 quintal only. Private traders are buying paddy without delay. The market price is between Rs 1,350 and Rs 1,400 a quintal, Rs 100 more than the minimum support price (Rs 1,285) this year.
The government agencies will enter the market from October 1.
Long-duration varieties most popular
When it comes to the area under paddy, it's long-duration varieties that rule. PR 118 (which the PAU released in 2003) is a long-duration variety that takes 158 days to mature. Pusa 44 takes even more days, and yet covers about 50% of the total area under paddy in the district because of its higher-yield promise. Only a few farmers have grown PR 111, a very old variety (which the PAU released in 1994).
"About 50% area is under the two long-duration varities," said Kaur Singh Dhillon, chief agriculture officer (CAO) of Faridkot. "Both varieties will take another about two weeks to mature."
Faridkot rain deficient
Scanty rainfall and inadequate electricity to run tubewells troubled farmers during the paddy season, escalating their cost of diesel. Slow growth led farmers to give soil an overdose of fertilisers and nutrients, spoiling its health and the environment. "This year, we recorded 156-milimetre rainfall against 576mm in 2011," said the CAO. "The district is 70% rainfall deficient."
Arrangements done, says DC
All five procurement agencies will enter the market, deputy commissioner Ravi Bhagat has said. "We have made arrangements of drinking water and shade for farmers," he added. "This year, there will be no shortage of gunny bags. The procurement will start from October 1."