AHMEDABAD: Even as moderate to incessant rains across India are expected to increase crop acreage, they are also leading to delayed harvesting of standing crops that include paddy, cotton, soyabean,onion and maize. In Punjab’s Ferozepur district, cotton farmers are worried as the crop is in the picking stage.
Rains at this stage would impact the quality and yield of the crop. Northern India Cotton Association president Rakesh Rathi said, "These rains will lead to a delay in harvesting and further damage the crop. At this stage, when cotton crop is in flowering, boll-initiation and maturation stages, the crop requires clear weather with western winds that increases the number of flowers. A humid weather will lead to falling of flowers and fruits."
Reports of water-logging at isolated places leading to flattening of standing crops due to heavy showers have also come in from Punjab, Haryana, Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh and Gujarat. Gujarat’s principal secretary agriculture RK Tripathi said, "the cotton crop is in an excellent stage with an isolated incidence of water-logging. With cotton arrivals started in Amreli district, farmers were likely to harvest the crop in the third week of September along with the groundnut crop."
According to Washington-based USDA analysts, India’s 2011-12 (August-July) cotton production and area are forecast at 35 million 170-kg bales and 12.5 million hectare After a slow start in some cotton growing areas, the monsoon has brought adequate and well-distributed rains to major producing areas, the report says.
Rains picked up in August with India Meteorological Department stating the June-September seasonal rains to be in line with the long-term average. The monsoon is not likely to withdraw during the coming week. Paddy harvesting, which usually begins from August end in Kerala, has also been impacted by rainfall.
With an increasing percentage of farmers dependent on rain, there has been delayed sowing across Palakkad and Alleppey, leading to a delay in harvesting. In Punjab and Haryana where the paddy crop has been attacked by sheath blight and foot rot diseases, agriculture department officials are adopting a wait-and-watch policy.
"The crop looks good and we are advising farmers on sprays and management of crop at this stage," said Punjab’s agriculture department director BS Sidhu. However, farmers who are harvesting the paddy are worried about the discolored grains and high moisture content in paddy.