The monsoon rains are expected to be lower than average in the next week, weather officials said on Thursday, providing an extended breather to summer crops such as soybean and cotton that faced a battering by heavy showers earlier this month.
Once summer crops are planted, they must avoid heavy showers during their growing phase and instead require rains at regular intervals to ensure healthy growth.
The monsoon, vital for 55% of country’s farmland that does not have irrigation, has already brought the heaviest rains in nearly two decades in the first half of the season, giving rise to an expectation of bumper harvests.
“The current weak phase in the monsoon is expected to continue early next week,” said DS Pai, the lead forecaster of the India Meteorological Department.
Rains were 29% below average in the week ended August 28 — their lowest weekly average this season — from 26% above average the previous week. The rains eased over soyabean growing areas of western India and also in cotton growing areas of northwest India. But the monsoon was active in many eastern areas which grow rice, expediting the last leg of planting for the main food crop.
Farmers have already taken advantage of the heavy rains to plant 4.3% more land with summer crops this year than normal.
N Chattopadhyay, IMD’s deputy director-general of agricultural meteorology, said rice planting could even continue early next month in some pockets of the eastern region and the north-east where the rains were less than average.