Wheat Cultivation in Punjab
Punjab is the second largest producer of wheat in the country. With 13.58 per cent of the country's wheat area its contribution is 21.78 percent recoding the highest per hectare yield in India. This ispossible due to assured irrigation, higher agricultural inputs and adoption of new farm technology.
The state is characterised with the beginning of Green Revolution which led to phenomenal increase in wheat production. The production increased from 17 lakh tonnes in 1961-62 to 76.77 lakh tonnes in 1980-81 and 159.1 lakh tonnes in 1999-00 (recording an increase of 107% between 1961-62 and 1999-00).
Although wheat is grown in every district of the state butsix leading producers include Ludhiana, Sangrur, Ferozepur, Faridkot, Patiala and Amritsar which together contribute 66 per cent of the state's output of wheat. Ludhiana district with 12% contribution in Punjab and 2.6% in India is the leading producer of wheat in the country. Punjab has a large surplus of over 30 lakh tonnes annually which is transported to other parts of the country for consumption.
The fertile plains of Punjab boast of producing about two-third of the food grains produced annually in India. This is largely owing to the fertile soil of Punjab. Climatic differences result in a variety of soil which ultimately culminates into a wide range of crops and vegetation in Punjab. South-western Punjab is mainly dominated by calcareous soil which includes desert soil and sierozem soil. The pH value in this zone ranges from 7.8 to 8.5 and also have grey and red desert soil, calsisol soil, regosol soil and alluvial soil. The soil of central Punjab ranges from sandy loam to clayey with pH value from 7.8 to 8.5 making alkalinity and salinity problematic for this place. The alluvial soil of this zone can be widely described as arid and brown soil or tropical arid brown soil. The soil in Eastern Punjab is loamy to clayey.
The climate of Punjab is mainly influenced be the Himalayas in the North and the 'thar' desert of Rajasthan in the south and south west. The mean annual rainfall varies from less than 300 mm to about 1400 millimeters. A major portion of the rainfall (70%) is received during monsoon (July to Sept.) season. The Mean Annual Temperature (MAT) varies from 23.3°C (pathankot) to 25.80 centigrade (Abohar). The mean monthly minimum temperature (January) is as low as 47°C and the mean monthly maximum temperature in June is as high as 420 centigrades.
- Ideal rainfall for the cultivation of wheat is 75cms.
- Annual rainfall of 100cms. is the highest limit of wheat cultivation.
- The 100cms. Isohyet marks the boundary between rice growing areas and wheat growing areas.
- In areas of less than 50cms. of annual rainfall irrigation is necessary for the successful growth.
- Prolonged drought at time of maturity is harmful.
- Light drizzles and cloudiness at the time of ripening help in increasing the yield.
- Frost at time of flowering and hail storm at the time of ripening can damage the crop.
Factors responsible for the progress of wheat cultivation in Punjab are:-
- Suitable climatic conditions with light rainfall associated with Western Disturbances.
- Fertile soil brought by the rivers of the Indus system.
- The Green Revolution strategy.
- Close network of canals
- Large number of tube-wells
- easy availability of HYV seeds
- easy availability of fertilizers
- Progressive outlook of the famers.
Harvesting is to be done when the ears are sufficiently dry and grains have approximately 15% moisture. Except some parts of Punjab and Haryana, wheat is harvested manually and threshed by wheat threshers. In some area bullocks are also used for threshing. Sometimes cutter wheels are also used for crushing wheat plants and separating wheat from chaff. In some parts of Punjab and Haryana combined harvester does all these operations in one go. But in this process recovery of grain is less and the straw is spread over the field.