Farmers in northern India should prepare for crop damage because of unseasonal rain and hailstorms, India’s official weather forecaster said on Tuesday, bringing the first bit of bad news for winter-sown or rabi crops after a long spell of favourable conditions of low temperatures and occasional winter rain.
This winter has seen a lot of rainfall as well as snow in the Himalayas because of western disturbances. Another western disturbance is forecast to bring snow, rain and gusty winds in northern India from Wednesday, said the India Meteorological Department (IMD).
Weather scientists said wheat and mustard crops in Punjab, Haryana, Himachal Pradesh and Uttarakhand face the risk of hailstorms this week. Wheat would gain if it rains, but hailstorms can damage the crop.
There is also a chance of the hail reaching parts of central India such as Madhya Pradesh and Vidarbha, said Anupam Kashyapi, head of the weather department at IMD. “Light to scattered rain is expected over the coming days, which could lead to some crop damage,” he said.
Wind speeds are likely to surpass 25 kilometres per hour in these areas. Some parts of Punjab and Haryana are expected to see wind speeds of more than 30 km per hour, according to an IMD official in Hisar.
“The damage to horticulture crops can also be caused by dusty winds,” said Kashyapi. This would lead to a heavy reduction in quality of the final output of crops, he said.
Heavy rain is likely in the northern parts of the country from March 5-7. This rain will also affect the National Capital Region, said IMD.
However, fruits grown in these regions are not likely to suffer much damage. “Most of the existing orchard crops are already protected by a hail net, which restricts damage from hailstorms,” said Kripan Ghosh, head of the IMD’s Agricultural Meteorology Department.
Some parts of Kashmir, Himachal Pradesh and Uttarakhand are likely to receive heavy snowfall from Thursday while some districts in Punjab, Haryana and Western Uttar Pradesh can expect heavy rainfall.