Ludhiana, 8 Jan 2016:– As per the Punjab Agricultural University (PAU), the total non-Basmati paddy arrival during Kharif 2015 in Punjab has touched 13.79 m tonnes which is about 1.84 m tonnes more as compared to Kharif 2014 (11.95 m tonnes). This bumper production in the state can be attributed to increase in the area under PAU recommended high yielding short duration varieties coupled with favorable environmental conditions and also a slight increase in the area under non-Basmati varieties. As a result of its vigorous efforts, PAU in recent years, released a series of high yielding short duration varieties. The emphasis on short duration and height was increased to save water and reduce the quantity of straw being burnt.
The total area under non-Basmati rice has increased by about one lakh ha due to shift from Basmati area. There has been replacement of low yielding varieties (HKRs) with high yielding improved non-Basmati varieties primarily PR 121, PR122 and PR 124 released by PAU from 2013 to 2015. Besides, short duration and high yield, these also have high head rice and total rice recoveries with excellent grain quality.
Among the newly released varieties, PR 121 is emerging as the most popular variety among the farmers of the state as it occupied 17% area in 2015 against 9% in 2014. Considerable area was also under PR 124, a short duration high yielding newly released variety.
Though climate did contribute to higher yield but both 2014 and 2015 were drought years. Thus, higher productivity during 2015 is due to adoption of newly released varieties. The increase in area of high yielding short duration varieties (especially PR 121 and PR 124) coupled with more sunshine hours due to drought resulted in bumper harvest in the Punjab state. Besides yields, switching over to short duration varieties is also accompanied by lesser input like water, fertilizers, pesticides etc. These also vacate the fields in time for the succeeding wheat crop.
Furthermore, efforts are afoot to release rice varieties with maturity period of around 125 days without compromising on yield.Two new early maturing high yielding varieties PR 125 and PR 126 have been tested in adaptive trials at farmers’ fields (the last stage of testing) during Kharif 2015. These varieties yield on an average 30.0 quintals of paddy per acre. Furthermore, PAU has withdrawn the long duration variety PR 118 from Package of Practices. The short to medium duration varieties which mature in 125-140 days will vacate the fields by first week of October. The farmers will have a window period of at least 15-20 days for residue management, thereby, decreasing the incidence of paddy straw burning and further decline in underground water table. It will allow timely sowing of succeeding wheat crop.