The unprecedented heatwave during the grain filling period of wheat in March this year has severely affected yield, according to the initial results of the Crop Cutting Experiments (CCEs) conducted by the Punjab Agriculture Department.
CCEs are conducted every year to get an accurate estimate of the yield of major crops.
Based on the data gathered till now, Punjab’s yield per hectare is estimated to have gone down between 270 kg and 546 kg, around 5-10 per cent down on last year’s yield. Officials worry that the average yield might go down by 10 to 12 quintals per hectare when all CCEs are completed. Farmers expect the numbers to be even worse, saying that the yield might drop by 12-14 quintals per hectare.
In Muktsar Sahib, 53 of the total 142 scheduled CCEs have been conducted to date. Based on the data gathered, the average yield will be around 4,505 kg (45.05 quintals) per hectare against the 5,051 KG (50.51 quintals) per hectare recorded in the district last year.
“In our district, around 5.5 quintals drop in yield (about 10 per cent) has already been recorded in the 53 experiments done. We are expecting that the yield will go down further by 10 to 12 quintals per hectare (around 20 per cent), ”said Chief Agriculture Officer (CAO) Muktsar Sahib, Dr Gurpreet Singh. He added that this year’s crop yield was good till February, but the high temperatures in March caused the grains to shrivel.
Ludhiana CAO Dr Narinder Singh of Benipal said they have conducted 15 CCEs out of a total of 166 to be conducted in the Ludhiana district. The experiments estimated the average yield to be down by 2.70 quintals, 5.4 per cent less than last year.
Dr. Benipal also said that there is a huge difference in yield even in the subdivisions. “In some parts of the Jagraon block, the yield was 3,946 Kg per hectare while in other parts it was 5426 kg per hectare, a difference of around 15 quintals in the same subdivision,” said Dr Benipal, adding that a clear picture would come only after the results from all CCEs is received.
Jalandhar’s CAO Dr Surinder Singh said that around five quintals less yield per hectare was recorded in the initial results.
Farmer Gursewak Singh of Sangrur district said he received only 14-15 quintals of wheat PER ACRE from his farm this year against the 19 -20 quintals he collected last year.
Paramjit Singh, a farmer in Jalandhar, said that his yield has dropped from 20 QUINTALS PER ACRE to 15 in just one year. While farmer Dharminder Singh suffered losses in the yield, they got managed to limit the damage. “I face a loss of yield of two to three quintals per acre as I had sown wheat through happy seeder without burning the paddy stubble. The stubble acts as mulch and prevents direct heat to the roots of the crop. This reduced the damage as compared to other farmers who sow by Burning paddy straw ”.
As per the crop cutting experiments conducted previously, the average yield per hectare recorded was recorded at 48.61 quintals in 2021, 50.08 quintals in 2020, 51 quintals in 2019 and 51.88 quintals in 2018.
Punjab was expecting to Procure 13 million tonnes for the central pool but the drop in yield estimates says that this target might not be achievable.
There are 142 agricultural blocks in the state and crop cutting experiments are undertaken in each block depending on its size. This year harvesting started a bit early due to early ripening of the crop.