Sowing expected to pick pace, get over by this month-end

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New Delhi | Published: December 9, 2016 6:06:11 AM

With the winter season setting in gradually across northern India, wheat-sowing activity across key growing states is expected to gather pace and be completed by the end of this month.

With the winter season setting in gradually across northern India, wheat-sowing activity across key growing states is expected to gather pace and be completed by the end of this month.

According to data released last week by the agriculture ministry, though wheat sowing has been so far been lower by around 8% from the normal sowing area, agriculture ministry officials said that eventually, total sowing will be close to normal sowing areas this year.

“Within the next couple of weeks, sowing activities in Uttar Pradesh and Bihar are expected to be completed and currently the sowing has not been hampered because of cash crunch,” G P Singh, director, Indian Institute of Wheat and Barley Research (IIWBR), a Karnal-based institute affiliated to the Indian Council for Agricultural Research, told FE.

Singh, however, said that following the completion of sowing, the weather condition prevailing during the month of February and March would be crucial to the yield. India Meteorological Department (IMD) last week in its first-ever winter forecast had stated that the country will witness an ‘above normal’ winter but north India is likely to have less of cold wave spells this season. This is for the first time that the IMD has released a winter forecast.

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“We are closely watching the sowing pattern and there is no cause of concern as of now,” Singh of IIWBR said.
According to data released by the ministry of agriculture last week, wheat, a key rabi crop, has been sown in 17.3 million hectares (mh) till now, which is lower by more than 8% than the normal sown area (30.4 mh), while it is around 14% more than last year. In Punjab, Haryana and Madhya Pradesh, wheat sowing will be completed by middle of December, while in Uttar Pradesh and Bihar the sowing would be completed by end of this month.

Meanwhile, Trilochan Mohapatra, director-general, ICAR, recently stated that if there is an increase in temperature in February and March, the wheat output likely to be impacted. He had also stated that studies have sown that a 1 degree rise in temperature impacts 10% reduction in wheat yields. The average wheat yield in the country is around 3-4 tonne per hectare, while in Punjab, it is in the range of 6-7 tonne per hectare. Wheat is a rabi, or winter, crop and its sown during November and December. Harvesting begins by the middle of March and early April.

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