PAU’s crop contingency plan to mitigate damage by floods in Punjab

Agri varsity experts have advised farmers to replant PR 126, Pusa Basmati 1509 varieties in rice fields

To mitigate damage caused by flooding in several parts of Punjab due to which about 2 lakh hectares of crops, especially paddy, have been damaged, the Punjab Agricultural University (PAU), Ludhiana have devised a contingency plan. PAU experts have stated that the solution lies in transplanting two short-duration rice varieties: PR 126 and Pusa Basmati 1509.

PAU Vice Chancellor Satbir Singh Gosal said the long-duration rice varieties require 110-130 days to mature after transplanting, rendering them unprofitable if planted late. He said the PAU-developed PR 126, which matures in 93 days after transplanting. “This early-maturity variety would save precious time, allowing farmers to sow late without incurring heavy losses. It will also enable farmers to sow the next wheat crop in time. Moreover, PR 126 has adapted well to all districts of Punjab, making it an ideal choice,” he added.

The PAU Director of Research Ajmer Singh Dhatt said that PR 126 had been released for cultivation in 2017, outshining its peers with a shorter growth period by one month compared to Pusa 44 and 2-3 weeks faster than other varieties. “Farmers, in favourable conditions, even achieved an impressive yield of 38 quintals per acre, surpassing the average yield of 30 quintals per acre. Likewise, Pusa Basmati 1509 is another suitable variety which also is high-yielding and early-maturing,” Dhatt said.

To implement the contingency plan, the PAU Director of Extension Education Gurmeet Singh Buttar said utilizing their vast network of Krishi Vigyan Kendras and Regional Research Stations/Seed Farms, the university had sown PR 126 and Pusa Basmati 1509 nursery on approximately 30 acres of land. These nurseries would be ready for transplanting in just 25-30 days. By August 10, 2023, farmers will be able to obtain these varieties from various PAU regional stations, KVKs, the state Department of Agriculture & Farmers Welfare and Punjab State Seed Corporation Limited (PUNSEED).

Buttar said, “Transplanting before August 15 will be the key to safeguarding their yield. The next wheat crop can be sown timely with recently developed method of surface seeding after harvesting paddy.”

For farmers who prefer alternatives to paddy, Buttar offered a few viable options like toria (rapeseed), fodder crops, sugarcane, and some vegetables crops.

Amidst the challenging floods in Punjab, PAU has advised the farmers to plan for drainage of excess water. For paddy, fill gaps due to seedling mortality; apply fertilizers after draining water, and transplant PR 126 and Pusa Basmati 1509 nurseries.

For maize, prevent excessive water stagnation with proper drainage, treat with weekly spray of 3% urea solution, and add extra nitrogen (25-50 kg urea per acre) after flooding. The farmers should visit their fields regularly to check incidence of insects, pests and diseases.

For cotton, apply recommended dose of urea at flowering stage, combat leaf dropping with the spray of cobalt chloride solution, and repeat 2% potassium nitrate spray after every 7-10 days starting at initiation of flowering.

For sugarcane, fertilize late-planted cane after drainage, prop the crop to avoid lodging, and use Ferterra for top borer. In drained fields, sow maize, sorghum, and bajra for fodder purpose; re-sow extensively damaged crops with cowpea mixed with maize or bajra; and sow rabi fodders in mid-September. Sow sesame variety Punjab Til No. 2 by July end.

In fruit crops, assess damage, remove debris, prune branches, improve drainage, and replenish nutrients with extra nitrogen and potassium. Regularly monitor for pests and diseases; apply sprays as needed. In vegetable crops, plant Punjab Suhawani of okra, Punjab Raunak and PBHR-42 of brinjal, Punjab Varkha Bahar-4 of tomato, cucumber, and Punjab Nawab variety of pumpkin. Manage whitefly, fruit fly, and pests with appropriate sprays.

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