Extreme hot weather is affecting cotton crop, especially late-sown in both Punjab and Haryana, say farmers and experts. There are reports of burning of crop leaves in many parts of the major cotton growing districts in the two states where it is a major kharif crop after paddy and basmati and account for nearly 12-13% of India's total output of the fibre crop.
Farmers are reporting burning of cotton leaves due to higher temperatures, which are hovering around 45 degrees celsius in the region, from Abohar, Muktsar, Bathinda and Mansa districts of Punjab. In Haryana, farmers from Sirsa, Hisar and Bhiwani have cited the same problem especially for cotton which was sown in the past 7-10 days.
"Now when the temperature has crossed 46 degrees celsius, cotton crop has been hit hard as the leaves are burning. We fear that the leaves may start getting curled, which affects the ripening and germination process," said Buta Singh Burjgill, chief of farmers' group Bhartiya Kisan Union (Dakonda).
Farmers are worried rising temperatures along with lesser availability of canal water may have an adverse impact on the growth of crop, which is at leafing stage now. "We need to irrigate the fields regularly in order to save our crop from burning. If such weather conditions persist a little longer, it may affect the growth and productivity of cotton. Extremely hot weather at the flowering stage may even lead to wilting," said Ajay Singh Godara, a farmer from Hisar district in Haryana.
"The scorched and withered cotton leaves are making farmers pray for weather to tame its fury," said an aggrieved Karnail Singh, a farmer from Muktsar. He said farmers have to spend a lot on buying cotton seeds particularly the genetically modified BT Cotton, which is growing in over 90% area in both Punjab and Haryana.
"I am worried that we may have to sow the crop again, if weather continues to be scorching. This will raise the production cost and seeds may not be available easily now," said Baljinder Singh Kotbhara from Talwandi Sabo area of Bathinda.
Another farmer from Bathinda, Mohinder Singh, said cotton fields with burned leaves and parched surface can be seen all over the cotton belt of Punjab.
Noted farm economist and marketing consultant, Punjab State Farmers Commission, P S Rangi admitted that weather conditions are not suitable for the growth of cotton in the major crop-growing districts. "There are reports of burning of cotton leaves in the areas where the crop has been sown late. But it is too early to say if it will lead to crop failure," he said.
While the farmers are worried about the impact of rising temperature on the crop, officials and traders say the impact on cotton due to adverse weather conditions may be minimal. Rakesh Rathi, president, North India Cotton Association, said burning of cotton leaves during summers is a common problem. "Though the temperatures are extreme this time, it may not cause much damage to the cotton crop. There are reports of burning of cotton leaves, but the situation is not alarming," said Rathi while allaying fears of farmers that the crop may be hit by scorching sun.
Meanwhile, the officials from the Punjab agriculture department said cotton has been sown in over 4.8 lakh hectares in the state till Thursday, which was 4 lakh hectares on the corresponding day in 2012. Area under cotton crop for the 2013-14 marketing season is estimated to be around 5.8 lakh hectares in Punjab.
Source: Times of India .
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