Intense heatwave virtually incinerates vegetation

Most adversely affected crops due to blistering weather include sesame, maize, cotton, mango orchards, lemon trees, vegetables and fodders

By Munawar Hasan
May 29, 2024
Women cover their faces with scarfs to avoid sunlight as they herd cattle during a hot summer day. — Reuters/File

LAHORE: In an unprecedented situation, record-breaking intense heatwave, crossing 50C in various districts of three provinces of the country, has virtually incinerated plantation on large swathes of land.


The most adversely affected crops due to blistering weather include sesame, maize, cotton, mango orchards, lemon trees, vegetables and fodders. Almost all sorts of farms are under immense heat-stress on the back of prolonged hot and dry conditions, said an official here Tuesday.

Heatwave conditions prevailed in districts of upper Sindh, south Punjab and various parts of Balochistan provinces, killing plants and lowering yields as well as quality of produce.

The highest maximum temperature of 52C or 125.6F was recorded on May 28, 2024 at Jacobabad, Mohenjodaro and Nawabshah, 51C at Dadu and Larkana, 50C at Rahim Yar Khan, Sibbi, Sukkur, Shaheed Benazirabad, Khanpur, Bhakkar and Khairpur, 49C at Bahawalnagar, Rohri and Padidan and 48C or 118.4F was registered at Dera Ghazi Khan, Dera Ismail Khan, Gujranwala, Jhang, Kasur, Khanewal, Kot Addu, Multan, Noor Pur Thal and Sakrand.

Above 45C temperatures have been witnessed for the last about one months in most central and lower parts of the country without an interval, including upper Sindh, south Punjab and adjoining areas of Balochistan province, rendering standing crops lifeless. The hot conditions are stated to prevail for next at least couple of weeks with minor drop in temperature for a few days.

Ejaz Rao, a progressive farmer hailing from Bahawalpur, said corn and cotton crops were badly affected due to heat in south Punjab. Late-sowing cotton has been much susceptible to heat stress while maize plants have also been badly affected due to sizzling heat. He added that water shortage complicated the situation further. In particular, the sesame crop is almost destroyed due to persistently hot weather, he feared.

According to World Meteorological Organization, a heatwave can be defined as a period where local excess heat accumulates over a sequence of unusually hot days and nights. Heatwaves amplify many risks, such as agricultural productivity losses in addition to increased human mortality, drought and water quality, wildfire and power shortages.

Muhammad Ashiq, Senior Scientist Agronomy, Ayub Agricultural Research Institute, Faisalabad, said grave impact of high temperatures on various crops has been witnessed.

Even hardy crop like sugarcane is not immune to hot weather leave alone other crops of small and tender leaves. Pest attacks due to dry and hot weather on cotton, chili and other crops intensify. Mango orchards, lemon trees, watermelon, tomatoes, onion, vegetables are especially susceptible to heatwave.

He advised farmers to schedule their tasks and work according to weather conditions so that crops can be saved from the adverse effects of harsh climate conditions which may extend to June-end. Farmers are guided to be vigilant and awake to their local weather forecast by using internet and authentic and reliable sources. In this way, they can manage their irrigation according to the respective weather conditions.

We should pray for beneficial rainfall, he stressed. There are chances of a beneficial rainfall in upper parts of the country.

Mubashar Naeem from Layyah said he had never witnessed such harsh weather in his area. Cotton, maize, sesame, citrus orchards have been hit hard. Plants have literally been burnt by hot air blowing non-stop. He also complained about shortage of canal water which aggravated the problems of farmers amid extreme hot conditions.

Meanwhile, some respite from record heat is expected from 30 May till 03 June as winds may move towards central Punjab from west and from the Arabian Sea, causing dust and thunderstorms with few isolated showers plus gusty winds which may reduce the heatwave though for a brief period.