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March 22, 2019

Pakistan set for bumper wheat crop this season in wake of belated rains

Business

March 22, 2019

LAHORE: Pakistan is likely to have a fairly good wheat crop this year as belated rainfalls and unexpected snowfalls replenished water supplies for winter crops, official data showed on Thursday.

However, conclusive forecasts could be made by end of the current month.

Indus River System Authority (Irsa) revised down water shortage for winter crops to less than 30 percent from 38 percent earlier projected for the October-March period due to below normal rains in the October-December period that dampened outlook for wheat and other crops.

More than expected snowfall and belated rains replenished water supplies. Rabi shortfall is likely to drastically come down owing to better river water availability.

Extraordinary long cold weather and wet conditions provide excellent conditions for wheat crop.

The positive impact of such conditions outweighed sporadic negative effects.

There have been several rain spells coupled with hailstorms since mid-January. Inundation of fields led to yellowing of leafs which is basically an indication of zinc deficiency. Such conditions used to be witnessed in paddy fields where abundance of water used to create zinc deficiency. Leaf rust disease in wheat fields in several northern and central districts in patches was also an outcome of such peculiar weather conditions in which cold temperatures, cloudy days and high humidity provide perfect recipe for spread of rust.

Windy conditions in the last few days are, however, adding to the miseries of farmers as they result in lodging of standing wheat crop in various districts.

The flattened wheat plants could reduce yield at an advance stage.

Sowing of sugarcane has been delayed due to wet conditions and it is feared that most of the crop would be delayed. Planting of spring corn is also facing delays as sowing is not possible in the wet fields. Harvesting of potatoes also came to standstills due to persistent wet weather. In some areas, it is being reported that ripen potatoes are spoiled because of soaked soil.

Sowing of water melon also got affected as a result of sustained rainy weather. Planting of peanut is also done in March but could not be initiated due to unfavourable weather.

The rare weather swing — from dry in early Rabi season to wet conditions – may have some implications for wheat but overall it supports agronomy of the crop. Rains also help address water shortage both for wheat and gram crops as well. The overall impact, however, is yet to be assessed by the official quarters.

From March 24, it is likely that mercury would surely surpass 30-centigrade threshold, which is not good for wheat. Till end of March, temperature should be below that for optimal maturity of crop. A weather alert said a heat wave is being anticipated as an anti cyclone is forming over South Pakistan, due to which hot winds would travel from Indian state of Rajasthan to South Punjab and Sindh.

The hot northeasterly winds would be responsible for increase in day temperatures between March 26 and 30. South Punjab and many parts of Sindh would see steep rise and maximum temperature may reach 38°C-40°C, paving way for extremely uneasy weather conditions which may not good for wheat and other crops.

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