Rain, frost damage acres of mustard crop sown this Rabi season

Fresh spells of rain were recorded on January 29 in Punjab, Rajasthan, Haryana, Delhi and Uttar Pradesh

By Shagun
Published: Monday 30 January 2023
A mustard field in Bharatpur, Rajasthan January 21, 2023. Photo: Preetha Banerjee / CSE

The last two days of rain and hailstorm as well as severe ground frost the previous week damaged mustard crops in several places in north India, especially Rajasthan and Punjab, locals reported. 

Preliminary assessments suggested that till now, around 25 per cent of the sown crop in Rajasthan has been affected, TC Gupta, joint-director of agriculture, statistics, Rajasthan, said. 

The state government has ordered the agriculture department to undertake a crop survey to assess crop damage. “A clear picture will emerge only after a week when the survey is completed,” said Gupta. 

The country saw a record sowing of mustard in the 2022-23 Rabi season. As on January 27, 2023, the area under mustard has been recorded at 9.7 million hectares (ha), according to data uploaded by the Agriculture department. This is almost 700,000 ha more than last season.  

The increase in acreage was also more than other competing crops. Mustard is a key oilseed crop for boosting domestic oilseed production and reducing the country’s dependence on import of edible oil. 

India imports around 56 per cent of the edible oil it consumes annually. Of the 44 per cent it produces domestically, mustard has the highest share of 39 per cent, followed by soybean at 24 per cent and groundnut at seven per cent. 

Rajasthan has the highest acreage at 39.722 lakh ha, more than 35.3 lakh ha last year. 

Fresh spells of rain were recorded on January 29 in Punjab, Rajasthan, Haryana, Delhi and Uttar Pradesh. In the previous week, a dip in temperatures due to cold waves had led to ground frost in some areas in the northern belt. 

The damage caused by ground frost and hailstorm may hamper the “bumper production” that was estimated. Maximum damage from cold waves has been reported from Udaipur, Sirohi, Churu, Ajmer, among other districts. 

“Mustard crop is almost at the harvesting stage and hailstorm and frost has damaged the standing crop in many places. In my field, the damage has been about 30-35 per cent,” said Om Prakash, a farmer from Hanumangarh district of Rajasthan. “The heavy winds also led to breakage of plants,” 

In Punjab, too, where there has been an emphasis to grow mustard in order to diversify the area from wheat and rice, farmers have experienced losses from frost and rainfall.

However, in some areas, the mustard crop also benefitted from light and intermittent rains. A dip in temperatures has also brought relief to the wheat crop. 

Apart from mustard, another Rabi crop which has seen a high damage was potato, especially in Punjab. In the potato belt covering districts like Jalandhar, Hoshiarpur, Ludhiana, Amritsar, Moga and Patiala, farmers have reported losses in the standing crop of up to 80 per cent due to ground frost. 

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