The main rabi crop wheat has, however, been damaged in some areas of Bihar, which shares about 6% in India's total production of the cereal, after hailstorms and unseasonable rains hit its northern and eastern regions in the past week.
The recent spell of unseasonable rains and hailstorms in a clutch of northern states haven’t had any major adverse impact on the rabi crop being harvested, officials claimed, based on field reports. The agriculture ministry has been expecting all-time high foodgrain production of 277.5 million tonnes in 2017-18 crop year (July-June) on good distribution of monsoon rainfall last year, even though pan-India rains were just 95% of the long period average of 89 cm, or just “below normal”. The India Meteorological Department said there was no hailstorm in major crop-producing states such as Uttar Pradesh, Rajasthan, Punjab and Haryana in the past few days.
Also, it said, the wind speed was mostly in the range of 50-60 kmph, which might not have impacted the crops. Hailstorms were reported from one place each in Himachal Pradesh and Jammu and Kashmir, and from two areas in Uttarakhand, the weather bureau said. Asked about reports of crops damage, union agriculture secretary SK Pattanayak said: “So far, no state has informed us about any damage. We are also in touch with them to find out if there is any damage after the rains and hailstorm.”
The main rabi crop wheat has, however, been damaged in some areas of Bihar, which shares about 6% in India’s total production of the cereal, after hailstorms and unseasonable rains hit its northern and eastern regions in the past week. “Hailstorms in Bihar and some parts of eastern Uttar Pradesh may have an impact on wheat crop, but the extent of damage is negligible taking the total production into consideration,” said GP Singh, director of the Karnal-based Indian Institute of Wheat and Barley Research. He said the rains would only delay harvesting. There have been reports of damage to standing crops of wheat in some areas in Bihar, said a spokesman of the state agriculture department. “We are assessing the extent of damage and it may take another week,” he said. There were also reports of damage to horticultural crops like mango and litchi in the Muzaffarpur region, he said. Uttar Pradesh, the largest wheat producing state with about 30% share, is also collecting reports from the districts. “The rains and hailstorms happened a day before and we have sought reports from our field officers,” said the state’s principal secretary agriculture Amit Mohan Prasad.
The key rabi-grown oilseed mustard may not see any kind of damage as harvesting was almost completed. “Only the late-sown regions in Uttar Pradesh and Bihar may be affected by hailstorm, if any,” said PK Rai, director of Bharatpur-based Directorate of Rapeseed-Mustard Research. He said both harvesting and threshing in Rajasthan are already over and it is the largest producer having 48% of the country’s total mustard area. In Madhya Pradesh too, there has been no report of damage as mustard crop was harvested earlier than in Rajasthan. Rai said wherever there is a hailstorm, the seeds may be damaged to an extent of 5-7%, otherwise the crop will dry after the rains. The harvesting of chana (gram), which is the main rabi pulse, is also nearly complete as the crop was harvested early from February in Madhya Pradesh, which produces nearly half of the country’s total production.