Incessant rains damage Kharif crops in Kashmir

Srinagar, Jun 20 (PTI) Incessant rains coupled with low temperatures in May have put Kharif crops, mainly paddy, in Kashmir at risk of getting wasted, farmers and officials said here.

The low temperature has resulted in stunted growth of the saplings of various food grains and vegetables, which in turn resulted in delaying the transplantation season from the fortnight spread over May and June to the middle of June this year.

“We suffered huge losses this season because of low temperatures and incessant rainfall. The farming activity started very late. Every year, we used to complete the sowing of rice saplings by the 15th of May but this year you can see it is June and we are still on it,” Aijaz Ahmad, a farmer, told PTI.

Ahmad is worried that the water level in paddy fields was still on the higher side.

As per traditional wisdom, the transplantation of the rice saplings has to be done before June 21, which marks the summer solstice in the northern hemisphere.

Ghulam Mohamad Dar, another farmer, said the water level this season is high due to excessive rainfall.

“The plants which, generally grow in dry soil like gourd and pumpkin, are damaged. Farming started very late as we usually start sowing of rice saplings in the last week of May up to 10th or 12th June. This season saplings are also damaged,” Dar said.

Manzoor Ahmad Dar said the farming community faced a lot of difficulties due to erratic weather this spring.

“First, there was the shortage of electricity (for irrigation purposes) then rainfall caused havoc and fields are filled up with excessive water. We started seeding in early May but that was also delayed and we don’t expect good crop this season because it was raining every day and that damaged seeds as well,” he added.

Deputy Director Indian Meteorological Department (IMD) Mukhtar Ahmad admitted that low temperatures affected the germination of seeds.

“If we talk about the overall precipitation of this year from the month of January, we received two good spells during the month of May, usually the weather was cloudy and every second day we received active spell of rain that filled not only precipitation but in some areas there was excessive rainfall that bought the temperatures down in the whole month of May,” the IMD official said.

He said the May temperatures were recorded below normal which had adversely affected agricultural activities.

“Every crop grows at a particular temperature during initial, mid and later stages (harvesting time) of the crop. In paddy, the early phase of crop the sowing of seedling in nurseries then transferred in large scale fields. That process of transplanting should happen up to 15th May but this couldn’t happen till the end of May because of low temperatures and proper germination couldn’t happen,” he added.

The official said this can lead to a low yield in the paddy crop this season.

“The blossom period of horticulture crops like apple, peach, plum and pear was also affected due to hailstorms, which can also lead to low production particularly in Shopian and north-western parts like Kupwara, Uri and in some areas of Baramulla and Hardwara,” he said.

The officer said the horticulture yield can be down by 30 to 40 per cent while the losses in paddy crop can be between 15 to 20 per cent.