By Dr. R. H. Patil, Department of Agricultural Meteorology, UAS, Dharwad
After a week of lull in monsoon activity, most parts of Karnataka have been witnessing incessant rains for the last three days. Since June 14, the coastal region, the Western Ghats and the Malnad region have all already received extremely heavy and intense rains. While the weather forecast from IMD suggests that rains are going to reduce and recede from 18th June, but most of the Malnad region is experiencing a flood-like situation and losing already sown crops.
Above normal pre-monsoon rains, supported by on-time arrival of monsoon rains, helped Kharif crops like paddy, green gram, soybean, onion, groundnut and maize, among other crops, and are in the very early seedling stage. However, the heavy and incessant rains received across the Malnad region in the last three days, covering the whole of Uttar Kannada, and the western region of Belagavi, Dharwad and Haveri districts, have far exceeded the soil absorptive capacity and, in many places, water stagnation is being observed.
Most of the already sown Kharif crops in the Malnad region are either at the emerging stage or at the seedling stage, hence they are susceptible to heavy rains and water stagnation. Even if the crop stands in water for a day or even less, it would kill the crop. So, the first thing farmers in the Malnad region need to do now is make the excess water drain out of the fields. Even in paddy fields, where the standing water is close to half of the crop’s height, the excess water needs to be drained out.
However, the sugarcane crop, as it stands now, may withstand the situation with a little negative effect. However, with the receding rains, farmers are advised to go for top dressing of nutrients, especially nitrogen fertilizer, so that crops can overcome excess moisture stress and pick up growth and development. However, foliar spraying is not recommended at this time because the vegetation is very small at this stage and most of the spray will fall on the soil. Placing fertilizer around seedlings or along the crop row, followed by earthing up / inter-cultivation, is better.
In contrast to the Malnad region, sowing has yet to resume across large tracts of farmland in the rest of the NIK region, where most of the sowing was halted because of insufficient soil moisture. This region includes the eastern taluks of Belagavi, Dharwad, and Haveri districts, as well as the majority of the H-K region districts, including Gadag, Bagalkot, and Vijayapura.
In these areas, light to moderate rains received in the last two days has helped wet the soil profile, which not only assured moisture sufficiency for the already sown crop but would now encourage farmers to take up sowing in the unsown areas. Further, the long-term forecast of the IMD also suggests that the monsoon during the July and August months will be normal to above-normal in the long-term period. In that context, all in all, current monsoon rains so far assure maximum sowing of Kharif crops across the NIK region and possibly bumper yields.