Rain, hailstorm flatten crop, drench harvest in Punjab, Haryana and UP 

Rain accompanied by high wind and isolated hailstorm walloped the food bowl states of Punjab, Haryana and Uttar Pradesh on Monday, drenching harvested produce in grain markets and damaging ripe wheat and other winter crops in farms.

The in several districts of Haryana and affected harvesting, according to farmers and administration officials. Also, it damaged this year’s wheat and mustard produce stacked in bags at wholesale markets.

“The rain damaged our crop lying in the open as there are not enough sheds to store the entire produce at the Karnal grain market,” said Gurdeep Singh, a farmer. The farmers are worried that their wet wheat will not be procured until it dries in the next few days. “The rain has delayed harvesting by nearly a week. We will have to pay more for harvesting the flattened crop,” said Ajay Kumar, a farmer in Indri.

Karnal, Kurukshetra, Kaithal, Yamunanagar, Hisar and Sirsa were the worst-hit, reports said. Weather officials said the highest rainfall of about 30mm was recorded at Nilokheri in Karnal.

Raj Singh, who heads the state’s meteorological and agriculture department, said farmers have been warned about the storm approaching the region. “We suggested that farmers harvest their crop and store it in a dry area as there was a good chance of rain from April 9 to April 11. We have sent SMS alerts.” The forecast is for more rain in the next 48 hours. Western disturbances are present over areas bordering Pakistan, which have attracted clouds over northern India, said JP Gupta, director of the meteorological department in Lucknow.

Punjab reported a similar scenario as rain and strong wind flattened crops in Kapurthala, Jalandhar, Shaheed Bhagat Singh Nagar, Patiala, and Mohali districts. The state agriculture department said there’s no need to panic as the rain fell in isolated areas. “The loss to crop will be less than 1%,” state agriculture director Navdeep Bains said.

Shamsher Singh, a farmer in Patiala, said most of his crop on two acres was down. “Such weather will reduce the yield by two to three quintals per acre. The crop was ready for harvest and the loss will be huge,” he lamented. Farmers and officials of procurement agencies reportedly covered harvested crops with tarpaulins in several places.

The freak storm also damaged crops in eastern UP, while the administration asked sub-divisional magistrates to inspect rain-hit areas and assess the loss.

In Bareilly and Moradabad regions, ripe wheat crop on an estimated 90 acres was flattened or submerged in water following spells of rain from Sunday evening till Monday afternoon. Hailstorm in some areas of Bareilly and Rampur affected crops.

“We were expecting a bumper mango crop because the trees flowered well. But the rain battered the buds … We will suffer a bigger loss if the rains continue,” said Sukhwinder Singh, an orchard owner in Pilibhit.