Farmers in some parts of Maharashtra are feeling the heat of a delayed winter, which may affect the rabi crops such as gram, tur and wheat. Less rainfall this year has already begun to affect sowing and rabi crops in the fields, officials from the agriculture department. It may affect the production of key Kharif crops like jowar. Kharif production is also likely to suffer due to lack of rainfall and water shortage in Pune, Aurangabad, Kolhapur and Nagpur.
An agriculture department official said rabi sowing has reduced due to poor rainfall. “Whatever sowing is being done is in the irrigated or command areas of the dams. Only crops like gram and wheat are being sown in such areas. Production is likely to dip in case of wheat and jowar. Since winter seems to have been delayed, wheat production is likely to be affected as the crop needs cold weather for growth,” the official said.
Officials said winter has been mild this November, made worse by the rain spells in parts of the state some 10 days ago. Purushottam Mangte Patil, who owns a 16-acre farm and is the head of a farmers’ group in Balapur taluka of Akola, said, “Typical winter temperatures are being experienced since the last few days. But most of November had above normal winter temperatures. Cold weather is necessary in the rabi season to maintain soil moisture. We have already sown tur, gram and wheat in the fields. In most years, typical cold weather begins in November. It is not the case this winter.”
The warmer it is, the higher will be the evaporation of water from the soil, which will compound water scarcity, a grower in Buldhana, has not sown anything in his field this rabi season as there has been no water. “We usually sow gram during rabi if the rain is good during a year. We have not sowed anything this year. Already, our standing Kharif tur crop is suffering due to lack of water. Normally, an acre yields about four to five quintals of tur. This season, the Kharif tur production may dip to 1.5 to 2 quintal per acre,” he said.
Mild winters and less water for crops affects crops. Affected pockets suffering from a dearth of water due to lack of rainfall include Pune, Nashik, Buldhana among others. In almost all divisions, pest attacks on crops have gone up this rabi season, officials said. Higher temperatures help more pests survive the winter.