Sarbjit Dhaliwal, Tribune News Service
Chandigarh, May 12. Punjab farmers never had it so good as far as wheat production is concerned. The latest estimate prepared by the State Agriculture Department has indicated that wheat production is likely to go well beyond 170 lakh tonnes.
“We have informed the authorities that it should be prepared to procure wheat up to 125 lakh tonnes,” said Mangal Singh Sandhu, Director, Agriculture. Initial estimate was to procure 108 lakh tonnes and later it was revised up to 115 lakh tonnes.
However, already about 121 lakh tonnes have been procured by the government agencies. Arrival of wheat is likely to continue in some select markets for the next few days.
There are farmers who had a return of up to Rs 40,000 per acre from wheat crop this year. The return also includes value of dry fodder prepared from wheat stubble. “There has been a sudden jump in per acre yield of wheat this year,” said Gurdev Singh, a farmer from Mansa district. “Punjab’s per hectare average yield is likely to touch a figure of 48.5 quintal this year and it will be a new record,” said Sandhu.
What were the main factors which led to a record production of wheat this year?
Punjab Agricultural University says beside other factors, the most vital role in record wheat production is played by prolonged winter this year. “Climatic conditions in February and March, which is considered a crucial period in wheat crop life cycle, remained highly favourable for the crop to flourish and mature,” said SS Gosal, Director, Research, PAU.
“Grain formation was excellent this time,” he added. Most of the wheat varieties grown in the country have Mexcian lineage and flourish in cold conditions. However, these are intolerant to sudden temperature variations at the maturing stage.
Other reasons listed by Gosal and Sandhu for the high yield include good results of some newly released wheat varieties, better pest and disease management especially that of attack by yellow rust in the area along the Kandi belt, farmers’ growing habit to use fresh seed, also known as seed replacement, and improved harvesting techniques.
Among the varieties which farmers say have given good yield include PBW 611 and 621, HD 2967, HD 2932 and HD 2851 and DBW 17.
Even states like Haryana, Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan have also done well on this front. Madhya Pradesh’s contribution to the Central wheat pool will be in the range of 80 lakh tonnes this year and Rajasthan’s about 15 lakh tonnes. Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh state governments give Rs 100 per quintal (in addition to the minimum support price) as bonus from their treasury to farmers who contribute wheat for the national pool. Bonus is given to promote the farming of cereals by both the states.