The untimely rain in late November damaged standing paddy crop on thousands of acres due to lodging in the Krishna-Godavari delta ruining farmers. But some saved their crop and reaped a good harvest of 25-30 bags an acre.

Reason? They opted for varieties that do not lodge. Craze for Swarna variety ruined them, say agricultural scientists.

But truth is most farmers are not aware of non-lodging varieties as there is little or no extension work in the State.

Need for extension

As Swarna variety, released by the Maruteru agricultural research station in 1982, was blast-tolerant and yielded more than 40 bags an acre, farmers made it a roaring success for 25 years. They never bothered about its negative quality---of lodging under submergence conditions---a situation they never faced.

During heavy rains at harvest time, the crop lodged and germinated damaging both quality and yield causing dismay among farmers. Former Minister Kalidindi Ramachandra Raju, a land-owner in Undi (West Godavari), was angry with scientists. “They released Swarna long ago, but left it without any development till now”.

When contacted, scientists at Maruteru rebutted the charge. Senior rice breeder Paladugu Venkata Satyanarayana said Swarna was the most popular variety grown in nine States, besides Bangladesh and Myanmar. They were aware of its lodging quality and developed and released MTU 1061 in 2006. It is now grown in 60 per cent area in Krishna and 10 per cent in Guntur. They developed MTU 1064 (Amar) which can withstand submergence for 10 days. They released MTU 1075 (Pushyami) in 2008 which has 140-day duration, resistant to brown plant hopper while giving the yield.

Farmers who raised Pushyami on 50,000 acres in Ganapavaram mandal and Amar on 5,000 acres in Achanta mandal escaped without any losses.

Mr. Satyanarayana felt that as environment is deteriorating, it is likely that untimely heavy rains may pose a challenge to farmers. They have to gear up by taking to suitable varieties. The International Rice Research Institute, Manila, introduced submergence-tolerance gene into Swarna and released Swarna Sub last year to fight submersion till flowering stage and non-lodging. This would be most suitable for the Krishna-Godavari delta.

They reap a good harvest by going in for ‘non-lodging' varieties of paddy