Hindustan Times (Jalandhar)

IMD issues orange alert, farmers worried

The extent of damage to wheat crop will depend on intensity of rain & hailstorm.

- Karam Prakash letterschd@hindustant­imes.com JASWANT SINGH, Punjab agricultur­e director

: Country’s nodal weather agency, the India Meteorolog­ical Department (IMD), has issued an orange alert for northwest states, including Punjab and Haryana, this weekend, leaving the farmers worried.

An orange alert is issued when extremely bad weather is expected. The IMD bulletin issued on Thursday reads: “Scattered to widespread rainfall with thundersto­rm, lightning and gusty winds (30-40 kmph) are very likely over Punjab and Haryana during 13th-15th April.”

The peak intensity of the weather activity would be the highest in Punjab on April 13 (Baisakhi), which can cause damage to the standing wheat crop. Hailstorm and gusty winds would flatten the nearly-mature crop while excess rainfall might lead to lodging, say experts.

The possible impact of the weather on standing wheat crop has already left Punjab farmers — who were expecting a bumper crop — worried.

The intense weather activity would further delay the harvesting owing to fall in temperatur­e. Harvesting of wheat in Punjab has already been delayed due to low temperatur­e in the first week of April.

According to agricultur­e experts, the maximum temperatur­e during the maturity stage of wheat should remain above 35 degrees Celsius for ripening.

Punjab Agricultur­al University (PAU) vice-chancellor SS Gosal said farmers should refrain from irrigating their fields as this could lead to lodging when it rains. He added that farmers should harvest crops only when the weather is clear.

“So far, wheat crop has faced no major weather activity and a bumper harvest is being expected. However, this weather activity – which includes hailstorms – can damage standing wheat crops,” said the V-C.

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