Share This Article :

In a bid to ensure food security of the nation and better economic returns to the farmers, the experts of Punjab Agricultural University (PAU) have stressed upon the adoption of water efficient and economically viable technologies of paddy production. The selection of short to medium duration varieties (PR 126 and PR 131) and the adoption of improved agronomic practices are the important inputs in this regard.

Voicing serious concern over exacerbating water crisis in the state, Dr Satbir Singh Gosal, Vice-Chancellor, PAU, observed, “In Punjab, rice is being cultivated over an area of >3.0 mha with highest productivity and the state contributes more than 20 per cent rice grain to the central pool each year, therefore, playing a key role in food security of the country.” The cultivation of water guzzling rice crop poses a serious threat to the available water resources of the state, he pointed out, adding that the level of groundwater in Punjab is decreasing very quickly with almost 80 percent area of Punjab falling under over exploited categories. Early transplanting of long duration cultivars of paddy is considered to be the one of the major reasons for falling water table in the state, he told. As a result of the enactment of ‘The Punjab Preservation of Sub-soil Water Act’ in 2009, the groundwater fall decreased to 50 cm/annum during 2008-2014 from 85 cm/annum during pre-act period (2000-2008), he divulged.

Elaborating, Dr AS Dhatt, Director of Research, said, “Since 2009, PAU has recommended 11 varieties of parmal rice, notable being the PR 121, PR 122, PR 126, PR 128 and PR 131. During Kharif 2012, in the non-Basmati category, 39.0 percent area was under long duration varieties Pusa 44 and PR 118, while 33.0 percent was under ‘PR’ varieties.” Owing to the release of short duration, high yielding, disease resistant and better milling quality characteristics of ‘PR’ varieties viz. PR 121, PR 126, PR 128 and 131, the area under short to medium duration varieties increased to 70.0 percent during 2023, he revealed. The PR 126 covered about 33 percent area under paddy cultivation in the state during 2023, he added.

Furthermore, Dr GS Mangat, Additional Director of Research (Crop Improvement), informed that during the current season, PR 126 and PR 131 are the main attraction for the farmers as these mature in 93 and 110 days after transplanting, respectively. “The high yielding varieties PR 126 and PR 131 released in 2017 and 2022, respectively, take about 3-4 weeks lesser than the long duration varieties (Pusa 44, Peeli Pusa and PR 118). Due to shorter duration, these escape abiotic stresses as well as the incidence of insect-pests and diseases, thereby, leading to lower cost of cultivation,” he explained. For maximizing productivity of the newly developed varieties, matching production technologies (optimum seedling age at transplanting, fertilizer application schedule and transplanting date) have also been developed, he told. Further, the experiments on irrigation requirement of rice crop transplanted on dates later than June 15 with short-medium duration cultivars (PR 126 and PR 131) showed encouraging results, he added. A comparison of data between short medium duration and long duration (Pusa-44) cultivars showed water savings equivalent to 9 irrigations (35 cm) and 5 irrigations (20 cm), respectively, he disclosed.

Dr Buta Singh Dhillon, Rice Agronomist, divulged that due to the increase in area under ‘PR’ varieties, there was a bumper rice production over the years in Punjab. During Kharif 2023, Punjab recorded the highest paddy productivity level of 6,744 kg/ha surpassing the previous figure i.e. 6,543 kg/ha attained during 2020, he said. In spite of deficit rainfall for five consecutive years (2014-17 and 2023), the adoption of short/medium duration varieties has definitely contributed towards conservation of water resources. The transplanting around June 20-25 of medium duration and June 25- July 10 of short duration varieties will be a win-win option in terms of productivity and water saving, while ensuring sufficient window period between harvesting of paddy and sowing of succeeding rabi crops, he observed. By growing PR 126 and PR 131, farmers can avail the additional benefit of efficient straw management, thereby, leading to timely sowing of wheat and hence less weed pressure in wheat, he said.

Read more:

Related Posts
No Thoughts on PR 126 and PR 131 Rice Varieties – Boon for the Punjab State