Even as Narendra Modi government eyes record wheat crop output, scorching summer plays spoilsport

By: | Published: April 3, 2017 10:47 AM

The early onslaught of extreme heat is causing big concerns for farmers as the weather can negatively impact standing wheat.

wheat, wheat news, wheat latest news, wheat crop, heat wave, early heat, heat wave, farmers news, wheat farmer, wheat farming, wheat farmers, farmer news, india news, financial express news, wheat crops, heat affect on wheatWheat is generally a three to four months crop which is sown as early as November 20 and is harvested by April 15. (Reuters)

The early onslaught of extreme heat is causing big concerns for farmers as the weather can negatively impact standing wheat. But even as concerns are being vented at the highest levels, experts believe that production losses due to this sudden hike in temperature may not be much. Wheat is generally a three to four months crop which is sown as early as November 20 and is harvested by April 15. Flowering starts in about 90 days and pollination process happens within five days near February 20. The next 45 days or more is when the resultant grain develops. During this phase, the mercury should ideally not go above 35 degrees. If it crosses that level, the grain tends to ripen fast. Thus, the high temperature has brought worries from wheat farmers even as the PM Narendra Modi-led government has projected a record production of 96.64 million tonnes, reported The Indian Express.

According to Pritam Singh Hanjra, a farmer who has planted wheat on 82 of his 90-acre holding at Urlana Khurd village in Madlauda tehsil of Haryana’s Panipat is worried looking at the early onset of heat. Temperatures in this area touched 38 degrees on March 28 and crossed 40 degrees, which is nearly six degrees above normal, by the month-end. Talking to IE, the farmer said, it was looking good up to around March 25, when the maximum temperature rose to 36 degrees Celsius, as he was confident his crop will do well. The baali (wheat ear heads) had then formed beautifully and there were enough ghundi (grain-bearing spikelets) in each of them but the last week has changed the picture. “The present heat wave could affect the size and weight, even if not the number, of grains harvested from each baali,” said Hanjra. To lower down the effect of weather on crop, the farmers, who do not irrigate the plants after March 15, are now doing so every other day in the region.

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Meanwhile, Rajbir Yadav, principal scientist and wheat breeder at the Indian Agricultural Research Institute at New Delhi, believes that production losses due to the early onset of summer may not be much. According to him there could be some impact of it on crop sown late but it is not case with the farmers in Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan, Gujarat, Maharashtra and Karnataka, as they already have harvested their wheat by the time temperatures had soared.

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