AGRICULTURE AND IRRIGATION
There are fourteen cereals in common cultivation in Sholapur district. Table No. 6 shows taluka-wise acreage under cereals in Sholapur district from 1961-62 to 1971-72.
The net area sown in Sholapur district amounted to 11,62,112 hectares in 1971-72. Of this area, cereals occupied 8,42,097 hectares. The important cereals cultivated in the district comprise jowar, bajri, wheat, maize, rice and barley. Other cereals such as ragi, kodra, vari, sava, bhadli, etc., are grown on small scale in the district.
Table No. 7 gives taluka-wise out-turn of cereals in the district from 1961-62 to 1971-72.
Jowar: Jowar (Jvari) is the most extensively grown cereal crop in the district and occupied 6,91,089 hectares of land in 1971-72. It is grown in all the talukas of the district mostly as rabi crop. It is the most economic crop as it yields good quality grains and palatable and superior fodder. The crop thrives best in deep and heavy black soil. It is produced in kharif as well as rabi seasons. Kharif jowar requires rainfall ranging from 508 to 1,016 mm. (25 to 40 inches). Jowar is a drought-resistant plant and it grows best under well-distributed rains. Two or three inches of rains prior to emergence of heads is very useful but rain during flowering and seed formation stages is harmful and results in rupturing of grain. The land should be ready for sowing by the end of June for kharif jowar. Usually two to three harrowings are done, from February to May. Manuring is not done, but the progressive cultivators apply five to seven cart-loads of farm-yard manure. After the first shower in June the land is again pulverised by a loaded harrow. Sowing is done in June and July. Some oil-seeds and pulses are grown mixed with kharif jowar.
The seeds when drilled are covered with a plank. As a rule one hand-weeding and
two to three bullock inter-culturings are given at intervals of fifteen days to root out the weeds and loosen the surface soil. Kharif jowar is ready for harvest from October to December. The rabi crop, on the other hand, is drilled during September and October and harvested in February-March. The crop is either cut by sickle close to the ground or uprooted and exposed to the Sun for about four days and the stalks are then tied into small bundles. The ear-heads are cut-off in the field and carried to the threshing floor where they are allowed to dry for about a week, when threshing is done under the feet of bullocks. The grains are then separated from the chaff by winnowing. The first heap of the winnowed grains is known as ras.
Jowar is susceptible to many pests and diseases. Their control measures are described separately in the respective sections.
The prominent kharif and rabi varieties of jowar grown in the district are maladandi, 35-1 and shalu. The yield of the crop varies according to varying conditions of soil and rainfall. The dry stalks and leaves form the ordinary cattle roughage for some months in the year, being known by the name " kadbi". It is also a crop of considerable value when grown as a green fodder. Jowar is chiefly used for preparing bread (bhakar). It is the staple food of the people in the district.
Bajri: It stands second to jowar in importance as a food-crop in the district. It occupied an area of 88,174 hectares in 1971-72 in Sholapur district. It requires moderately dry climate and light showers of rainfall varying between 254 and 1,016 mm. (10 to 40 inches) with plenty of sun-shine between the showers. It is grown in light medium black soil. It thrives under the conditions of soil and rainfall which may not be suitable for jowar. Bajri is usually grown as a kharif crop in the district. The land is prepared by harrowing it two or three times in April and May and again when the soil is sufficiently moistened by monsoon rain. The seed is drilled with a four-coultered
drill, when fine seed-bed is ready in the last week of June and mid-July. Bajri is sown mixed with mug, matki, chavli, etc. Two hand-weedings and two inter-culturings are given to this crop. The crop is harvested at the end of October, when crop is cut with a sickle close to the ground. It is left lying in the field for some days, then bound into bundles and stacked or the heads of grain are removed and carted to the threshing floor and the bundles of kadbi only stacked. The threshing and winnowing are done in the same way as for jowar. In the district local strains are generally sown. The agriculture department has recommended the Akola, 28-15, Hyb-35 improved strains for this district. The green ears of bajri are parched and eaten under the name of limbur or nimbur. The ripe grain is sometimes parched and made into lahis. Bajri is mainly used for preparing bread known as bhakari. The stalk of bajri forms good fodder.
Wheat: Wheat (gahu) stands third among the cereals in the district. It occupied an area of 39,078 hectares in 1971-72. It is mainly a rabi crop. It thrives well in black soils and requires dry and cold weather during its growing period. This crop is not as drought-resistant as jowar and requires more dependable supply of water. The crop is either taken as dry crop or as irrigated crop. The land is prepared by ploughing and two or three harrowings, where kharif crops are taken prior to rabi crops. When the land is kept fallow for wheat two to four ploughings are given. Dry wheat generally receives no manure but if available four to ten cart-loads of farm-yard manure are applied. An irrigated crop is necessarily manured with ten to fifteen cart-loads of farm-yard manure which is given in September after which land is harrowed again. Sowing is done from the first week of October to the middle of November with a four-coultered seed drill with 12 to 18 inches distance between the rows. Planking after sowing is useful as it brings moisture from the lower layer of the soil in contact with the seed in the upper layer of soil which helps in satisfactory germination of the seed. Beds are prepared and the first irrigation is given 21 to 30 days after sowing. The number of irrigations vary from three to twelve and the interval between two irrigations is ten to thirty days. Generally one to three inter-culturings are given in December at short intervals.
The crop takes 4 to 5½ months to mature from the date of sowing and is ready for harvest from the middle of February to the middle of March. Plants are cut close to the ground or uprooted and either tied into bundles or kept as such to dry in the Sun for a week. The bundles are either beaten on a log of wood or a thick plank or beaten with sticks. After the harvested material is completely dried, it is carried to the threshing yard and threshed under the feet of bullocks. It is winnowed usually in the direction of the wind.
Irrigated wheat is grown alone and rotated with cotton, ground-nut, etc. Dry wheat is grown year after year in many places or rotated with cotton, jowar, bajri, kodra, gram, etc. The improved varieties of wheat sown in the district are N-345, N-146, Hyb.-65 and N-59 dry variety. The local varieties grown in the district are sheta, a dry crop and khapla or jod/a garden-crop.
Rice: Rice (bhat) is the fourth important cereal crop of the district. It occupied an area of 4,103 hectares in 1971-72. The crop is mostly grown on medium black to deep black soils. Warm and moist climate and rainfall above forty inches are conducive to the abundant growth of the crop. Broadcasting, drilling, dibbling and transplanting are the four methods which are usually followed to raise the crop. Of these, drilling and dibbling are adopted in the district. The main varieties that are grown in the district are Krishnasal and Basmati.
Under transplanting system of paddy cultivation fields are properly bunded so as to allow the water to spread evenly in the field. A plot is selected in the field and ploughed and levelled. Leaves, grass, small branches of trees, which are usually brought from the jungle and cow-dung are spread in layers. Sometimes mud is spread over the upper layer. These layers are locally known as rab which is then set on fire in April-May. After first good shower of monsoon, seeds are sown in the robbed plot which gives vigorous seedlings. When the seedlings are 203.2 to 254 mm. (eight to ten inches) high they are pulled out, tied into small bundles and removed to the field. Three or four seedlings are planted by hand in each place in a row. The distance between the plant and that between the rows varies from 203.2 to 304.8 mm. (8 to 12 inches). Manures are applied in two doses, the first dose, a week after transplanting and the second dose is given a fortnight before flowering. Maturing period which depends upon the type of soil and the variety of seed grown varies between three and half months and five months since plantation. The crop is cut close to the ground, tied into small bundles and taken to the threshing floor where the bundles are beaten on a log of wood or on stone. Rice is eaten after it is separated from the husk and boiled. Pohas and murmuras are also prepared from rice.
Maize: Maize (maka) occupied an area of 16,586 acres in 1967-68 in Sholapur district. The crop requires rainfall between 508 and 762 mm. (20 and 30 inches) and thrives best in well-drained soil and deep alluvial lands. It is usually grown as a kharif crop and is usually followed by a rabi crop of wheat or gram. If taken as hot-weather crop, it is mainly for green cobs. The land is first well ploughed in the beginning of the rains and five to ten cart-loads of farm-yard manure are added to the soil. The seed is sown after the first good showers of monsoon early in June. Its growth is very quick because
it is sown alone. The crop is once hand-weeded and two to three times inter-cultured with a bullock hoe. The crop ripens within three to four months. It is ready for harvest from the middle of September and the harvesting may continue upto the middle of October. The crop sown in February is ready for harvest in May. The crop is harvested when thoroughly ripe. The cobs are cut-off from the standing stalks and when sufficiently dry are beaten with sticks to separate the grain. The heads are usually eaten parched or boiled while green and ripe grain is parched and made into lahis and grinded into flour.