“The effect of dust conditions is widely noticeable in districts of Jind, Sirsa, Fatehabad, Bhiwani and Hisar,” Haryana’s additional director of agriculture Suresh Gahlawat told ET. The winds have blown sand from Rajasthan and smeared cotton plants in the districts that produce 80% of the fibre crop in the state, he said.
Apart from the dust, the hazy atmosphere due to suspended dust particles has also restricted the availability of sunlight for plants at this crucial period of growth, experts said. The impact of the weather is more in Haryana and Rajasthan where the veil of sand has camouflaged the standing cotton plantations. “It could reduce output by 7-10% as the accumulated sand and dust on leaves affect the process of photosynthesis and nutrient suction ability of cotton plants,” Gahlawat said.
In Rajasthan, the impact is more in Ganganagar and Hanumangarh districts. “Cotton sowing was late due to a delay in (getting) canal water this season and now dry and dusty weather is affecting the crop,” said Suresh Kumar, a cotton trader based in Hanumangarh.
Farmers have sown 20% less cotton this year in Punjab and Haryana. The sowing is also delayed due to the release of less canal water in the three states. While experts are recommending slight spray of water on the plantsto get rid of the dust on them, the availability of water is a concern in non-irrigated areas. “Farmers are now awaiting rains to settle down the dust,” said Guni Ram, a cotton grower based in Sirsa.
A dry spell in June will worsen the hazy conditions for cotton crop, experts said.
Farmers have dithered away from sowing cotton in the North due to less canal water, less than expected price of remuneration and rising losses due to diseases.