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All eyes on weather as rabi wheat sowing enters crucial stage

Sowing of wheat in the ongoing rabi season has been completed in over 92 per cent of the normal acreage of 307.32 lakh hectares (lh) as of December 15, the feedback from States says. However, the focus is on the weather as even a slight rise in temperature during the grain filling stage could affect the yield.

Though the deficit coverage under wheat widened this week to 3 per cent against less than 1 per cent until December 8, officials say by the end of this month the acreage may be near last year’s level though a tad lower. Last year, the total area under wheat was 343.23 lh, marginally higher from 2021.

Latest data show that wheat acreage has reached at 284.15 lh compared with 293.01 lh a year ago, down 3 per cent. Almost all States have reported lower coverage from a year ago, though not substantial, sources said.

No problem in Bihar, UP

“As far as Bihar and Uttar Pradesh are concerned, there is no cause for concern as the area coverage is almost same as last year. We have decided to start farmer registration from January 1 and are trying to start purchase as early as possible depending on grain arrival, even though the procurement season begins from April 1,” said Ashok Meena, Chairman and Managing Director of Food Corporation of India (FCI).

He also said the Food Ministry is likely to convene the annual meeting next month to discuss with States on the preparation for wheat procurement.

Area sown under all rabi crops during 2023 has reached 567.04 lh until December 16, which is nearly 90 per cent of the normal area. Though it is still down by 3 per cent from 587.33 lh during the same period a year ago, the gap has narrowed as until December 1 the deficit was 5 per cent.

Pulses acreage down 8%

Rabi pulses acreage has reached 128.54 lh compared with 139.98 lh, down by 8 per cent as both lentil (masur) and gram (chana) acreage dropped. The sowing area of major rabi pulse chana is down by 10 per cent to 88.48 lh from 98.01 lh and that of lentil marginally to 16.75 lh from 16.84 lh.

Higher sowing of mustard has helped the overall oilseeds sowing look comfortable. Mustard acreage has already exceeded the normal area of 73.06 lh and reached 92.46 lh, 3 per cent more than 90.17 lh a year ago. All rabi oilseeds acreage has been reported to be at 99.11 lh, up from 98.08 lh year-ago, in which groundnut area is down by 91,000 hectare. Though groundnut is a kharif crop, it is also grown in about 7 lh during winter, mainly in Karnataka, Tamil Nadu, Telangana, Andhra Pradesh and Odisha.

Paddy acreage reached 11.64 lh, as against 12.89 lh in the year-ago period and maximum area has been reported from Tamil Nadu.

In coarse cereals, the sowing area has reached 43.61 lh, up by less than 1 per cent from 43.37 lh. Jowar acreage has been reported at 19.98 lh, down by 2 per cent from 20.35 lh and maize acreage is up by 4 per cent at 15 lh from 14.45 lh year-ago. Barley sowing is at par with last year and reached 8.01 lh.


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