Chandigarh, Jul 30 (PTI) As the recent flood wreaked havoc in many parts of Punjab, leading to extensive damage to the paddy crop, experts have suggested farmers grow alternative crops like maize, pearl millet, vegetables and moong if resowing of the Kharif crop is not possible by the first week of August.

Many areas in Punjab were hit after heavy downpours lashed the state from July 9 to 11, flooding vast expanses of agricultural fields besides paralyzing everyday life.

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More than six lakh acres of fields were flooded and of which paddy needs to be resown over two lakh acres, said a senior official of the Punjab Agriculture department.

Maximum area under paddy was hit in Patiala, Sangrur, Mohali, Rupnagar, Jalandhar and Fatehgarh Sahib districts.

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Overall 19 districts of Punjab were hit by floodwaters.

Farmers whose paddy crop was hit by floodwaters have been asked to resow the summer crop by the first week of August with experts saying otherwise the harvesting will get delayed and will also eventually impact the wheat crop sowing in November.

There are several flood-affected areas in Punjab where fields continue to remain submerged and will take several more days to recede even as farmers are racing against time to resow the paddy crop.

Moreover, it takes several days for paddy seedlings to be ready for re-transplantation. Silt and stones left by the floodwater of overflowing rivers in agricultural fields are also posing a challenge for growers for the transplantation of the paddy crop.

"If resowing of the paddy crop is not possible by August 7-8 because of submerged fields, farmers will be asked to grow alternative crops like maize and moong," said Gurwinder Singh, director of the state agriculture department.

Maize crop will be used as fodder for cattle, said the official.

The moong crop can fetch remunerative prices, besides improving the soil health and it can be ready within 60-65 days, the official said.

Punjab Agricultural University, Director of Extension Education, Gurmeet Singh Buttar said farmers can grow vegetables, 'bajra' (pearl millet) in August and they can also go for oilseeds crop in September in case paddy could not be resown.

Paddy growers, whose crop got damaged in floodwaters, have been advised to go for resowing of the Kharif crop with short-duration rice varieties –PR 126 and PUSA basmati 1509.

As against the long-duration varieties that take 110 to 130 days for maturity, the PR 126 variety matures in 93 days, thus giving sufficient time for the sowing of the next wheat crop.

“PR 126 variety matures in 93 days after transplantation and it will be ripened by November 10-12 and thereafter, the wheat crop be sown,” said Buttar.

The agriculture department and PAU will be giving paddy seedlings of PR 126 and basmati 1509 varieties to flood-hit farmers, said officials.

Paddy crop, which is a major Kharif crop in Punjab, is mainly sown during June and July. Punjab grows paddy over 31 lakh hectares.

The exact damage to agricultural crops will be assessed after the flood water recedes, said the officials.

A few days back, Punjab Chief Minister Bhagwant Mann had said the state suffered a loss of nearly Rs 1,000 crore because of the floods caused by the recent heavy downpour but also said the exact amount was yet to be calculated.

He had also said that people would be compensated for the loss of every single penny.

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