Recent rain and gusty winds in parts of north and central India have spared the standing wheat crop — except in west Uttar Pradesh — as much of it has been harvested or is at a mature stage.
But the standing crops could be at risk if rain returns with greater intensity.
The weather conditions do remain volatile, say experts. “There is a possibility of a strong western disturbance developing in Himachal Pradesh and Uttarakhand in the next few days. This might lead to unseasonal rain and gusty winds till April 12. There could be early morning and late afternoon downpour in the northern plains, lasting an hour or two,” said Mahesh Palawat, chief meteorologist at private weather forecasting agency Skymet.
He added, “The pre-monsoon activity has shifted to the eastern regions of the country. In the northern parts, the situation could remain volatile.”
In western Uttar Pradesh, there have been reports of waterlogging in some fields. Officials said around 30 per cent of the crops have been affected.
“As of now, we haven’t got any report of major damage to the standing wheat crop because in Haryana, Punjab and Uttar Pradesh, it has already matured, while in Madhya Pradesh, Gujarat and Rajasthan harvesting is still on. But, if another bout of rain or thunderstorm comes with hailstorm, it can impact the crops,” said G P Singh, director of the Indian Institute of Wheat and Barley Research.
He said according to reports from fields, 99 per cent of the standing crop had escaped damage. Some damage might have occurred at the mandis where farmers had stored their produce.
“The wheat bags in the mandis have been lying for quite some time. The moisture content in most of them is 15-16 per cent, against the permissible 12 per cent,” Singh said, adding the government had advised farmers to not bring semi-matured crop to the markets. “If we get good sunshine for a few hours daily, the moisture content will go down,” Singh added.
Wheat is one of the major foodgrain grown during the rabi season. This year, it has been sowed in about 30.42 million hectares — 427,000 hectares less than last year.
Mango orchards — those flowering and those with raw fruits — in the region and elsewhere have also been affected. The sudden showers also affected tomatoes, cauliflowers and late-sown grapes in some parts of Maharashtra, particularly in the Solapur-Nashik and Satara regions.
The chana crop, however, escaped damage as much of it in Madhya Pradesh and Maharashtra has been harvested. “So far, we have not got any news
of major damage to the standing crop, as the rain has been patchy. Also, chana prices dipped yesterday (Monday), indicating there have been no reports of any major damage,” said Bimal Kothari, vice-president, Indian Pulses and Grains Association. He added, in Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan, most of the chana has been harvested. “Had it been in fields, the rain would have caused some damage, but that is not the case,” said Kothari.
Vegetable farmers in Solapur-Nashik and Satara have not been so lucky.
“High moisture in tomatoes and cauliflower increases chances of fungal infection. This lowers their market value,” said Sriram Gadve, president, Vegetable Growers’ Association of India.
Gadve said there could be damages in mangoes as small fruits fall from trees due to heavy winds, while flowers could also get damaged.