Heavy surplus rains in the key rabi crop-growing states including Punjab, Haryana, Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan this month have delayed harvesting of wheat and chana (gram), while there are reports of lodging of crops at several places, which is expected to impact the quality and yield of the grain.
According to the India Meteorological Department (IMD), the key wheat-growing states — Punjab (150%), Haryana (178%), Uttar Pradesh (185%), Rajasthan (344%) and Madhya Pradesh (199%) — have received more rainfall in March against the normal benchmark.
Cumulative average rainfall across the country was 26% above the benchmark with 28 states and Union territories receiving rainfall between ‘large excess’ and ‘normal’ range against the benchmark in March.
While ruling out any heat wave condition developing in the next five days, the Met department has predicted thunderstorms with lightning and gusty winds and hailstorm over Himachal Pradesh, Uttarakhand, Punjab and Haryana on Monday.
“Maximum temperature is likely to be below normal-near normal during next five years,” IMD stated in its prediction on Friday.
Gyanendra Singh, director at Karnal-based Indian Institute of Wheat and Barley Research (IIWBR) and also a member of the committee set up by the agriculture ministry for monitoring of the wheat crop, told FE that the harvesting of wheat will be delayed by a week or 10 days to middle of April in norther India.
In an advisory to the farmers, IIWBR has advised farmers to drain out the water from the fields to avoid lodging of wheat crops and advised against application of any chemical at this stage.
The agriculture ministry last month had estimated a record wheat output of 112.2 million tonne (MT) for the 2022-23 crop year (July-June). Agriculture ministry officials have hinted at some reduction in output because of un-seasonal rains this month.
Meanwhile, close to 0.1 MT of wheat has been purchased in Madhya Pradesh in the procurement for 2023 season so far, although the purchase operations officially would commence from Saturday.
The government is aiming to purchase 34.15 MT of wheat in the April-June marketing season, 2023
The minimum support price (MSP) operations in key states — Punjab, Haryana, Uttar Pradesh and Rajasthan — which contribute significantly to central pool grain stock, will commence from Saturday.
An official with the Punjab agriculture department said that harvesting of wheat would only begin after April 15 looking at the current weather conditions.
With consultation with the states, estimated wheat procurement this season include Punjab (13.2 MT), Madhya Pradesh (8 MT) and Haryana (7.5 MT).
As on Thursday, the Food Corporation of India (FCI) has wheat stocks of 8.4 MT against a buffer for April 1 of 7.4 MT.
To replenish the stock, the FCI and state agencies have to purchase at least 30 MT of wheat in the April-June 2023 season from farmers, so that sufficient quantity of grains is available for the implementation of the National Food Security Act and creation of adequate buffer stock. FCI needs to have a buffer of 27.57 MT of wheat by July 1.
Global wheat prices have cooled in recent months even as domestic wheat inflation is still high.