Summer paddy yield falls due to heat, heavy rain in Thanjavur

Both extreme heat conditions during April and May and subsequent heavy rain are being blamed for this decline.
Harvest under way at Sadayarkoil
Harvest under way at Sadayarkoil Photo | Express

THANJAVUR: As the summer paddy harvest is in full swing across Thanjavur, many farmers are reporting a significant drop in yield.

Both extreme heat conditions during April and May and subsequent heavy rain are being blamed for this decline.

Typically, Thanjavur district’s paddy cultivation spans the Kuruvai and Samba-Thaladi seasons. However, farmers with energised pump set facilities often opt for an additional short-term summer paddy crop. The paddy transplanted from January 1 to March 31 is considered summer paddy.

Mostly farmers in Kumbakonam, Papanasam, Tiruppanandal, Tiruvidaiamarudur, Ammapettai and Orathanadu blocks take up summer paddy cultivation.

Normally, about 37,500 acres are devoted to summer paddy in the district. This year, however, cultivation was taken up only on 31,750 acres, officials sources said. The decrease in acreage is being attributed to depleted groundwater levels at the onset of the cultivation period.

The dip in groundwater level is linked to a reduced flow of Cauvery water due to insufficient storage in Mettur dam as Karnataka government failed to release water to Tamil Nadu during the last irrigation year. Combined with April-May’s extreme heat, farmers with pump sets struggled to adequately irrigate their crops, stunting their growth.

When the crops matured and were ready for harvest, sporadic heavy rain caused mature crops to fall. “I used to get around 40-45 bags, each 60 kg, of summer paddy per acre. However, this season, I got only 30 bags,” said S Kumaran, a farmer from the Orathanadu area, attributing the loss to the intense heat during the growth stage.

R Senthilkumar, a farmer from Ammapettai and district president of the farmers’ association, noted that the recent downpour impacted the crop ready for harvest. “Besides the loss of around six bags per acre, we have to spend double the amount for deploying the harvesters,” he said.

“Harvesting machines, which usually complete the harvest in one and a half hours per acre in dry fields, now take three hours due to the wet conditions, doubling the rental costs for harvesters,” he added.

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