The recent unseasonal rains and hailstorms have caused significant damage to the wheat crops in pockets of Punjab, Haryana, and Rajasthan at the harvest stage, resulting in losses ranging from around 25-50 per cent. Furthermore, the weather bureau has predicted another bout of rain and hailstorms in the north-west starting from March 29, which may cause further harm to the crops that managed to survive the previous western disturbance.

The Agriculture Ministry is likely to take a preliminary assessment of crop losses with states on Tuesday as the usual collection of information through girdawari (survey) takes time. Already, Punjab and Haryana governments have ordered special girdawari and promised compensation to affected farmers.

Sources in Agriculture Ministry said that there could be about 1 million tonnes (mt) of loss from the estimated production of 112.18 mt due to the unseasonal rains.

A spot visit to parts of Haryana and other field reports coming from Haryana, Punjab and Rajasthan showed that the standing crop got flattened or lodged in the inundated field due to heavy rains and gusty winds. However, the damage is not uniform across the States and depends on the stage of the crop.

The most affected districts in Haryana — Mahendragarh, Sirsa and Charkhi Dadri — have reported 25-50 per cent damage to the ready-to-harvest wheat. In contrast, the standing crop, which may be harvested after 20-25 days, has survived the impact of heavy rainfall.

“The crop has flattened on the field as due to weight of the grain it could not survive both rains and high speed wind,” said Gurdip Singh of Bangu village in Sirsa, Haryana. He has estimated a 50 per cent crop loss, and is hopeful of getting the claims reimbursed from the Pradhan Mantri Fasal Bima Yojana (PMFBY).

Many wheat farmers in Badaguda block of Sirsa reported 25-50 per cent damage to the crop. “The hailstorm on evening of March 24 was a real setback since my crop survived the rainfall three days earlier,” said Ram Ratan Lal of Badaguda, who claimed about 30-40 per cent damage. “Even if I sell it, will not get the (market) price as the quality has been affected,” he added.