Pollen shedding, premature harvesting due to unseasonal rains: Thanjai farmers stare at dip in kuruvai paddy yield
Even as kuruvai paddy harvesting is in the final phase in the district, farmers are staring at a reduction in yield as compared to last year due to the unseasonal rains.
THANJAVUR: Even as kuruvai paddy harvesting is in the final phase in the district, farmers are staring at a reduction in yield as compared to last year due to the unseasonal rains. Following comfortable storage in Mettur dam, water to aid irrigation of kuruvai cultivation in delta districts was released on May 24, ahead of the customary date of June 12.
Enthused by this, farmers cultivated kuruvai paddy over 72,816 hectares in Thanjavur district, which is a record in the past 49 years. "Of these, paddy in 53,000 hectares has been harvested so far," an official of the Agriculture and Farmers Welfare Department told TNIE.
This comes to around 73% of the acreage under kuruvai cultivation this year. While kuruvai paddy earlier used to be called a money spinner owing to the good sun shine and comparatively less rainfall aiding the cultivation during the season, thereby facilitating cash flow for farmers to meet Deepavali expenses, this has not been the case this year.
"Unseasonal rains during this season, particularly heavy downpour in a few days in August, resulted in pollen shedding which affected yield," said R Sukumaran, a farmer from Orathanadu. He pointed out how from an average yield of 6,750 kg per hectare (i.e. 45 bags of paddy of 60 kg each from one acre) it has now dipped to around 5,400 kg per hectare.
Besides pollen shedding, farmers are also facing yield reduction as they are harvesting paddy prematurely fearing rains. "This also results in yield loss as there would be a significant quantity of unripe grains which have to be discarded," Sukumaran added. Echoing his point, V K Chinnadurai of Tiruvonam pointed out there has been around 25% lesser yield in Kuruvai paddy in his area due to unseasonal rains.
Concurring with the farmers on the dip in yield due to unseasonal rains, an agriculture department official told TNIE that 26 crop cutting experiments have so far been conducted and the average yield is found out to be only around 6,000 kg per hectare. Last year’s kuruvai season recorded an average yield of 6,400 kg per hectare.
Adding to the yield loss, the rains raked in the issue of increased moisture content in the paddy being harvested. Farmers could be seen drying their paddy in the last few days during daytime where there was no rain.
"The moisture content norm for procurement in DPCs should be relaxed to 22% from 17%. In the absence of such relaxation the farmers are forced to sell their paddy to private traders who are offering Rs 410 less per quintal than the government procurement price," Sukumaran said.