Agri Business

Unseasonal rainfall warning in parts of Maharashtra leaves wheat, horticulture growers worried

Rahul Wadke Mumbai | Updated on February 15, 2021

An element of fear has set in among growers in parts of Vidharbha, Marathwada and Madhya Maharashtra with the Indian Meteorological Department warning of unseasonal rains and hail over next three days. Rabi crops such as wheat, chickpea (chana) and horticulture crops such as oranges are at the stage of harvest.

Orange Growers Association of India Executive President Amol Totey said that if the weather turns truant and hailstorm or strong winds occur, then the fruits, which are ripe, could suffer damage. In the current season, orange trees planted over about lakh hectare could be affected in case of the weather turning bad, he said

The Mandarin orange variety is extensively cultivated in Amravati and Nagpur districts of the Vidarbha region. The fruits are plucked during October-November and February-March, Totey said.

Orange farmer Sagar Chikte from Amravati said that the October season last year was a washout as the 30 tonnes of oranges could fetch him only Rs two lakh. Usually, such volume provides him an income of about Rs seven lakh. However, due to oversupply and lack of market demand on account of novel Coronavirus pandemic lockdown, farmgate prices crashed.

Milind Damle, a farming expert from Yavatmal, said the wheat which is standing in fields is at the stage of maturing. If rainfall hits the fields when the stalk is weak, then the crop could get flattened. Even if the crop stands, it could suffer damage as water and excess moisture could trigger fungal attack. Chickpea (chana) could also face a similar problem.

He said that due to fragmentation of land holdings, farmers no longer have the capacity to absorb such blows. Smaller farmers are most vulnerable to crop failure due to weather changes.

Skymet Weather Services said in its report that untimely rain is expected to be accompanied with thunderstorm and lightning. Fairly hot pockets of East Madhya Pradesh, South Madhya Maharashtra, Marathwada, Vidarbha and Central Chhattisgarh with day temperatures in low and mid 30’s are raising the bar of inclement weather escorted with hailstorm at few places. The intensity of rain by itself may not be harmful to the crops but the combination of wind and hailstorm does prove detrimental more often than not. As such any unseasonal epoch wields more probability of foul weather at this time of the year, the report said.

Published on February 15, 2021

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