CHANDIGARH, 21 April 2023: India’s agricultural sector is facing challenges due to climate change. The frequent occurrence of extreme weather events, increasing temperatures, and other consequences of climate change has resulted in adverse effects on crop yields and farmers & livelihoods.
In particular, the scorching heatwaves during the summer months in India have a detrimental impact on maize cultivation.
The high temperatures and dry weather cause a depletion of soil moisture, which can lead to nutrient deficiency with extensive loss of green leaf tissue; and limits pollen viability and silks receptivity, causing a significant reduction in seed setting leading to reduced yield and poor quality of the harvested crop.
The India Meteorological Department (IMD) warns that there is a 70 percent probability of El Nino phenomenon (the phenomenon occurs when the sea surface temperatures in the equatorial Pacific Ocean rise) exacerbating drought-like conditions, leading to a severe impact on crop yields, especially in rain-fed cultivation.
Agriculture researcher Dr V. K. Sachan, Deputy Director, Department of Agriculture, Uttar Pradesh says, “Maize farmers across the country are facing adverse weather conditions this summer, with the sowing period of Spring maize having shifted to April-end due to relentless heat waves and high temperatures. This shift in the sowing period has adversely affected the plant's growth, making it crucial for farmers to take precautionary measures by timely sowing the crops for enhancing the yield and increasing their profitability.”
To overcome challenges caused by heatwaves the following preventative measures can be taken to maximize farmer yield.
1. During the peak summer season, frequent watering of maize crops is essential to keep the soil moist. The fields should be watered every morning and evening, especially during the first fortnight of May and June
2. Maize crops are sensitive to both moisture stress and excessive moisture, hence regulating irrigation according to the soil requirement is important. To maximize the moisture content of the field, irrigation should be done within two to three days as soon as 50 percent tassels are visible in the plants
3. Before the plants emerge, irrigate in the condition of moisture and then use 35 to 50 kg of urea per acre along with 20 to 25 kg of potassium, two to three days after.
4. Farmers should also monitor the weather closely since May is a critical month for a stress-free grain fill period which can maximize the yield potential of maize.
5. Farmers are also recommended to cautiously dry the corn and store it in a safer location to maintain grain quality and protect from pre monsoon showers.