20,000 Ha crop area damaged in hailstorm, yellow rust in Jammu

Gopal Sharma

JAMMU, Mar 17: Over 20,000 hectares cropped area has been affected with the hailstorm and yellow rust in Jammu region due to massive rains, hailstorm and bad weather.
Reports said that the farmers from the plain areas of Kathua, Hiranagar, Samba, Vijaypur, Bishnah, Suchetgarh, Arnia, R S Pura, Marh, Pargwal and Akhnoor have suffered huge losses due to recent hail-storm and continuous rains. The hail-storm has badly affected the mustard oil, pulses and vegetable crops in most of these areas.
In many low lying areas of Suchetgarh, R S Pura, Bishnah and Marh blocks, the water logging in the fields has caused much damage to the standing wheat and vegetable crop. Reports from Vijaypur, Samba, Kathua and parts of Marh and Akhnoor said that problem of yellow rust has caused damage to wheat crop and nearly 25 % crop has been affected with this in last three weeks. The farmers at some places have turned panicky and they have approached the Agriculture officials and SKUAST scientists for the protection of their crop. With the ongoing freak weather the problem of yellow rust may further aggravate.
A noted Kissan leader from Suchetgarh Ch Dev Raj told the Excelsior that till today, over 40,000 kanal crop area in Baspur, Chandu Chank, Samka, Hanso Chak and Chakroi was under 2 to 2.5 ft water. The water logging in last three weeks has caused extensive damage to mustard, vegetables and wheat crop besides green fodder (Chhatala). He said the recent hail-storm in this entire belt further added to the woes of the farmers, whose mustard, pulses and vegetable crops have been badly hit.
Referring to the warnings of the Agriculture staff and SKUAST officials not to allow water logging in the field, the Kissan leader said when entire area is under water logging, where the farmer would shift this water from the fields. For this water pumps/ motors are needed to drain out water from the fields. Moreover, there is no sufficient power supply. The transformers have also been damaged. He claimed that in R S Pura- Suchetgarh belt over 35-40 % damage has been caused to the crops and the Government should compensate the farmers suffering losses.
Another progressive farmer Ch Krishan Lal from R S Pura said that rains have created havoc in the region and farming community has been badly affected with this. He said water logging in the fields has damaged their crops and hail-storm has further aggravated their woes. He said that farmers earn good from the vegetable crop but the water logging and hail-storm has caused more than 60 % damage to the crops. He said the farmers are now facing the problem of yellow rust and it would spread further with the improvement in weather. The water logging has already done much loss to their crops. He demanded that Agriculture and Revenue officials should start assessment of damages and provide compensation to the farmers.
Director Agriculture Jammu Dr S S Jamwal when contacted said that over 1200 hac area has been affected with the yellow rust but to a larger extent it has been controlled in many areas. The department is providing guidelines to the farmers and also conducting treatment of the affected crops.
Replying to question, Dr Jamwal said that reports of yellow rust were only received from parts of Samba and Kathua districts and the field staff has indicated that hardly 20-25 % crop has been affected with the yellow rust and hail-storm.
Referring to the ongoing weather and predictions by the weatherman, the Director said the weather is sending shivers down the spine of the farmers, vegetable, potato, onion growers and agriculture functionaries. The recent frequent rains have caused water stagnation in large patches in the low lying agricultural belts starting from Khour, Pargwal, Jourian and Planwala area of Akhnoor sub division, Gole Pattan village of Marh sub division and extending towards Nai Basti, Pinjore, Pakhiyan, Gajansoo, Marh, Karloop, Mandal-Phallian, Kulliyan, Badyal Brahmana, Abdulliyan, Kotli Kukan, Khatmarian, Chak Hansa, Suchetgarh, Sai, Dablehr, Pindi Charkan, Pindi Camp, Devigarh, RS Pura, Chakroi and Arnia in Jammu district raising apprehensions of significant damage to Rabi season crops.
About 20,000 hectares of cropped area is likely to be affected by these rains and the extent of damage here varies from 20 to 25 per cent in wheat as of now. Some damage due to water stagnation and crop lodging is reported from Kohalpur and surrounding areas in Vijaypur, Samba district and in some border areas of Hiranagar and Kathua belt also.
The damage was earlier preceded by a dry spell of around four months till the first week of February 2015. The main season sowing of Rabi crops in the rain-fed areas of the hills as well as the plains was delayed. The warmer than normal weather during these winter months and moisture stress in the soils initiated a slow and stunted crop growth. Since February this year, the continued spell of rains frequented with interspersed hailstorms is dampening the hopes of a good harvest. The water inundation in fields especially in the low lying plains is choking the roots and disturbing the smooth supply of nutrients and air to crop plants causing leaves of crops especially wheat to turn pale. As the weather remains wet the chances of permanent damage to crops increase. The grain formation will definitely be poorer and all efforts of the Department of Agriculture and the farmers through timely sowing and use of quality inputs in adequate quantity through government assistance may be belittled by the weather God. It is expected that Yellow rust disease of wheat will not cause much damage because of adequate and timely measures taken by Agriculture department.
He further said that Berseem fodder and the near maturity potato, onions and fresh sown vegetables are the other main sufferers. The harvesting of potatoes is getting delayed and the continued inclement weather has hindered sowing of summer season vegetables. Losses to underground potato crop are likely to rise as the rains stop and high temperatures after mid March heat up the soil. The impact of heavy rains on the soil is causing damage to seed of okra (Bhindi) and other vegetable crops also leading to poor germination and damping off.
SKUAST Scientist, Dr B C Sharma said that over 220 mm rainfall was recorded in last 16 days during March while normal rainfall is 66 mm in March. He said hailstorm no doubt has caused much damage to the crops but the farmers must take all the necessary precautions. He said the farmer advisory is made out time to time and it is advised them that water logging should not be allowed in the fields. They should continue to drain out water from fields to protect their crops. He said the stem goes under stagnated water and affects metabolism system, thus affecting the growth of the plant. Dr Sharma said there is no much problem of yellow rust reported from different areas and concerned agriculture officials have already taken necessary measures in this regard.