Ongoing wet spell to benefit wheat crop, claims official.

LAHORE -- Contrary to popular belief, agriculture officials believe the current rain spell has been more useful than harmful to the province's vital wheat harvest.

According to a senior agricultural department official, hailstorm damage to wheat has been documented on just 123,000 acres, contrary to the popular notion that the Rabi crops in Punjab have been severely damaged as a result of the natural disaster.

Punjab has sown wheat on 16.041 million acres, a minor decline against the target of 16.48m acres to produce 21 million tonnes of grain set by the Federal Agriculture Committee for the 2022-23 season. The staple food has lost its acreage to oil seeds, sugarcane and potato.

In the 2021-22 season, the province produced 20.032 million tons of wheat out of a total national output of 26.393 million tons.

The official says that the lowering of temperatures in March because of the ongoing rains will help the grain develop further against its shriveling, as was witnessed during the same month last year due to heat stress.

He says that the wet spell, which is likely to continue for a couple of days, will also benefit the crop in rain-fed areas of the province that had been suffering from dry season for the last couple of years.

Both these factors, he claims, will make up for the losses to be suffered because of the lodging of the crop in some areas.

Farmers, however, are wary of the change in the meteorological calendar as erratic rainfall patterns, both temporally and spatially, are forcing a change in crop patterns. Temperatures rise earlier in the year, while rains come unexpectedly causing damage to...

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