Extreme heat conditions in the northern region have caused leaves of cotton crops in Punjab to burn, which has given rise to fears of a low crop yield at the maturing stage.
“We have found cases where the cotton leaves have burnt in all the cotton-growing areas of Punjab because of severe heat,” a senior official of the Punjab Agriculture Department said on Monday.
Wilting of cotton crops has taken place in all major cotton-growing areas in the state, including Bathinda, Ferozepur, Faridkot, Abohar, Moga, Mansa, Barnala and Sangrur.
However, state authorities said there was no reason for alarm over the burning of crop leaves. “The impact of heat on the crop is not alarming, though the problem may worsen if the weather continues to remain extremely warm, as it will halt the recovery process and can cause further burning of crops,” he said.
The maximum temperature in the northern region is hovering at around 42 to 43 degrees Celsius, which is 4 to 5 notches above normal. “Mercury above 40 degrees is not suitable for the cotton crop,” he said.
Heat conditions have hit the germination process of cotton crops, which are at a vegetative stage. “The germination process of cotton crop has been affected and plants of the crop have burnt due to extreme weather conditions,” he informed.
According to cotton experts, farmers have no way of dealing with this problem except to wait for the mercury to drop in the coming days.
“Irrigation at this point of time is not a good remedy, as it will affect the root developing system of the cotton crops. Therefore, farmers will have to depend upon the weather to show some mercy by effecting a fall in temperature,” experts said.
The area under cotton sowing in Punjab is likely to grow by 10 to 15 per cent in the current kharif sowing season.
Punjab is expecting the area under cotton crop to grow to 5.30 lakh hectares this year against 4.90 lakh hectares in the previous year. More than 90 per cent of the area is under Bt cotton crop. The state is expecting cotton output of 22.76 lakh bales this year in comparison to production of 18.19 lakh bales in the previous year.