The ongoing heat wave has prompted the Punjab government to scale down its projections for total wheat arrival this rabi trading season from 115 lakh MT to 100 lakh MT.

“I think that total arrival of crop in mandis will remain close to 100 lakh MT due to the adverse impact of the heat wave on the crop,” Punjab Agriculture Director B. S. Sidhu told PTI in Chandigarh on Monday.

Punjab had earlier estimated that 115 lakh MT of wheat crop would be lifted for the central pool during the current rabi marketing season.

However, because of the abrupt rise in mercury, the moisture content in the crop has gone down, resulting in drying up of grains, according to Mr. Sidhu. “The grains have dried due to intense heat prevailing in the northern region and the impact of heat is not limited to some particular area, rather it has affected the entire area where crop had been sown,” Mr. Sidhu said.

The northern region has been witnessing temperatures at least 5 to 6 six degrees above normal this year.

Punjab has also lowered its estimates of overall wheat production during the year to 150 lakh MT, in view of reports coming from farmers that indicate that crop yield has declined by at least 2 quintals per hectare.

The State was earlier hoping that wheat output would cross 160 lakh metric tonnes this year on the back of favourable weather conditions in the winter season.

The impact of the heat wave is also being felt in the neighbouring State of Haryana, which is witnessing a 2 to 2.5 per cent drop in wheat output due to the soaring mercury.

“I think wheat production will be affected by 2 to 2.5 per cent,” a senior official in the Haryana Agriculture Department said.

During the past couple of years, the wheat yield in Punjab has become stagnant, at 42-43 quintals per hectare, largely because of rising temperature in the winter season, according to agricultural scientists.

Punjab, which contributes 60 per cent of the wheat production to the central pool, attained the highest wheat yield in the year 1999-2000, of 4,696 kg per hectare. But thereafter, the State was unable to maintain the high wheat yield, which dipped to 4,563 kg per hectare in 2000-2001, 4,532 kg per hectare in 2001-02 and 4,200 kg per hectare in 2002-03.

However, it improved marginally in 2003-04 and 2004-05 to 4,207 kg and 4,221 kg per hectare, respectively, before declining again to 4,179 kg per hectare in 2005-06. It improved again in 2007-08 and 2008-09 to 4,507 per hectare and 4,462 per hectare respectively.