Since last many days, many parts of Northwest India, which includes states like Punjab and Haryana, are reeling under cold day conditions. But the major brunt of this cold weather is shared by the crops, vegetables and fruits which are seeing damage on a large scale.
The successive western disturbances are giving snowfall over the hills of North India. Along with snowfall the winds from northwest direction are not allowing the maximum temperatures to rise, resulting in cold day conditions over Punjab and Haryana.
In Punjab and Haryana, 1-2% of the early sown crops like Wheat and Mustard have been damaged due to weather related issues. The intense cold weather is favorable for the wheat crop which is late sown (November-December), as it helps in higher yield. But persisting cold weather with fog is impacting vegetables and fruits adversely. If fog prevails for a longer period of time then it may have more impact on the crop as fog restricts solar radiation or photosynthesis which is necessary to achieve high yield.
If dense fog and mist continue to occur for some more days then it can cause diseases like late blight on potato crop. Early sown Potato, i.e. Potato crop sown in the first week of October has not borne any damages as of now, as the plants at this moment are already matured. Crops sown in later half of November-December are the ones that are damaged. Generally crops sown in November-December are in full vegetative stage at this time of the year. It is expected that nearly 5-10% of crops are damaged.
This damage of crops can be attributed to the show of frost. Due to sudden drop in temperatures, the dew on the ground freezes and forms a thin layer of ice known as frost. This frost doesn’t allow the plant to photosynthesise and plant turns pale or brown. This situation is also called Cold Burning. Such damage is usually seen in plants like Potato, Peas, Tomatoes and Capsicum.
In Kaithal district of Haryana, a whopping 5-10% of mustard plants have caught rust because of extreme cold conditions due to which plant leaves turn yellow or brown in colour.
Coincidentally, no damage has been recorded for the crops in Chandigarh as layer of fog post good showers has saved the crops from frost. As Dr. Beer Pal Singh ex-director of CPRI (Central Potato Research Institute) said, “Persistence of fog over a region post good winter rains is good for the crops as it creates a thin layer over the crops that saves it from the frost.”
In coming days, due to approaching western disturbances, minimum temperatures across North India are likely to rise which will reduce the chances of frost formation in Punjab, Haryana and Uttar Pradesh. Due to cloudy sky and change in wind direction minimum temperatures are expected to rise till January 28.
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