RICE: Most extensively cultivated crop in Jammu and Kashmir

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Shabeer Ahmad

Rice is the staple food in Kashmir, while its cultivation is widely carried on in Jammu Plain and in isolated tracts in the hilly areas, the side-valleys. This crop has the distinction of being the most extensively cultivated in Jammu and Kashmir State

Rice has an extensive range of cultivation. The range of altitude may be said to extend from 5 m to 1,800 m. Temperature, however, sets a limit and in the higher altitudes like, Kashmir Valley, Bhadarwah Jammu Division), Rupsu, Nubra and Suru Valley (Ladakh Division). Rice can be grown only in the warm months of summer July-Sept.).

In the higher altitudes of moun­tains, where the temperatures are generally mild even during the summer season, the growing period is more prolonged and the ripening and harvest­ing get delayed. In fact, the short duration verities like Pusa 103, which mature in about 60 days in Haryana and Punjab, take about four months in the hilly and mountainous areas of the Jammu and Kashmir state.

Rice can be grown over a wide range of rainfall. In the areas of deficient rainfall, it is successfully grown with the help of irrigation. It requires about 100 to 125 cm of rainfall, well distributed over the growth period. The aver­age temperature should be over 20°C. Frost, mist, fog, and low temperatures are injurious to its cultivation.

The soils on which rice can be grown are so varied that it can be said that there is hardly any type of soil in which it cannot be grown, including alkaline types, of a fairly high degree of alkalinity. Damp alluvial soils, ex­ceedingly shallow soils, soils with high lime and alkaline content and even boggy and lateritic soils can be seen to be devoted to rice crop.

Steep hill sides are terraced for rice cultivation with the most painstaking labour, and flat land subject to inundation and complete submergence for part of the year is also cultivated with rice. The best soils for the cultivation of rice are however, clayey loams of the kind seen on flat land under irrigation and in river deltas. They work into a soft mud when puddled and when dry devel­oped deep cracks.

The cultivation of rice is carried out in many ways but the most impor­tant preliminary is the laying out and leveling of the fields for the purpose. Cultivation of rice requires that water should stand evenly over the field practically throughout the growing period and be capable of flowing out in gentle flow, the level of the water in the field being kept up at the same time.

Fields, therefore, have to be level and bounded by firm, fairly watertight bunds. The size of the fields has to be suitable, both for the purpose of im­pounding the water at an even depth and to permit a smooth flow.

On sloping ground and undulating country or the sides of the hills, the difficulty and expense of making any deep cutting and somewhat large terraced fields sets on additional limit to the size of the fields. Fields should be laid out as far as possible into suitable rectangles and as large as the surface of the tract will allow, consistent with the requirements of irrigation.

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