October 6, 2011
India's extended monsoon to boost wheat production
India's winter wheat output is expected to match last year's record level amid prolonged monsoon rains, according to a senior government official in a report by Wall Street Journal.
"This rain will be good for the wheat as it has improved the soil moisture," said Indu Sharma, director of India's Directorate of Wheat Research. "Based on our observations, we think we must be harvesting at least what we did last year, although it's initial stages."
India achieved an all time high wheat production of 85.93 million tonnes in the crop year ended June 30. Wheat is sown in October-November and harvested from March-April onwards.
The industry had pegged last season's wheat output even higher, at between 87 and 88 million tonnes.
Ms. Sharma said sowing of the wheat crop is likely to start around October 25, some 10-15 days later than usual because of the prolonged rains, which delayed the summer sown rice crop's harvest.
Rice, the country's other grain staple, is mainly grown in summer.
"Sowing will start in the rain fed areas as soon as the rice is removed," Sharma added.
The seasonal rains are continuing to linger over the country, although officially the June-September monsoon season has ended. Rains have subsided over most of the northern and central regions, but are continuing over the eastern and north-eastern regions.
India is aiming for record food grain output of around 245 million tons in 2011-12.
Sufficient monsoon rains are also expected to help the main winter-sown oilseed crop, rapeseed, as well as pulses.
"Sowing will start in the next 10-15 days. It will be on time and the area is likely to rise as the sub-soil moisture is good," said D.P. Khandelia, chairman of the rapeseed promotion council of the Solvent Extractors' Association of India.
Last year the area under rapeseed was around seven million hectares. Sowing of oilseed continues until December and harvesting normally starts from the end of February.
India is one of the world's top three rapeseed producers, and the north-western state of Rajasthan is the country's largest rapeseed-producing state.