Agricultural production in India is sensitive to climate change and variability. The abnormal temperature increase impacted crops, fruits, vegetables, and animals. High temperatures result in moisture stress, sunburn, flower drops, and less fruit setting in horticultural crops such as kinnow, pomegranate, mango & lemon, and vegetables like tomato, cole crops, and cucurbits. May is the month when peak summer starts hitting the mercury. Plants may come under heat stress if they are exposed to high temperatures for an extended period. It causes adverse effects on the plants, which hampers their metabolism, growth, and development, making it difficult for many to manage healthy and productive plants. There are many ways to identify heat stress like rolling leaves, drying leaf margins, flower or fruit drops, bolting, and wilting of the plants.
There are five essential tips to manage the heat stress of plants:
Water management – It is imperative to manage the moisture level as with the increase in temperature, transpiration becomes very fast, resulting in wilting of plants. Therefore, apply light and frequent irrigation to the standing crops. Increase the frequency of irrigation at critical growth stages. The best time for irrigation is early morning and evening hours because, at this time, plants can quickly soak water from the soil before the sun evaporates it.
Mulching – Apply a layer of inorganic or organic mulch of 5-7 cm thickness around the plant to maintain congenial soil and micro-climate nearby plants. New seedlings are not able to survive in too high soil temperatures. So mulching is the best way to maintain soil temperature.
Pruning – Do not prune the plants at the time of heat stress, as due to the removal of branches, the new parts of the plants will be exposed to the sunlight and may lead to sunburn, which is unsuitable for plant health.
Nutrient management – Giving the appropriate nutrient at the right time is essential as this helps plants to tolerate heat stress. But at the same time, remember only do fertigation with sufficient water availability because this can damage the tissue of the plants as the crop starts to grow in response to a sudden infusion of nutrients.
Overhead net – Use nets to protect the crop from heat stress and direct sunlight, which causes sunburn. These overhead nets protect the crop from direct sunlight, birds, wind, and hailstorms. Cover your orchards and vegetable fields with hail nets. Cover your nursery with plastic, polythene, and cotton strips, protecting it from hailstorms, picking up ripened vegetables to minimize the losses and keeping them in protected places. Young tender fruit plants should be protected from heat by erecting thatches or gullies made of sarkanda, para la, or date palm leaves.
Views expressed above are the author’s own.
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