Unseasonal rain may damage wheat, mustard

Labourers try to protect bags of wheat from rain after heavy rains at Grain Market in Patiala  Picture by PTI
Weather offices prediction of unseasonal rain and hail are causing incessant anguish to farmers in north and central India. 

India Meteorological Department (IMD) has predicted isolated incidents of rain, squall and mild thunderstorms over parts of Punjab, Haryana, western Uttar Pradesh and Madhya Pradesh. It has already been intermittently raining in parts of Maharashtra for some days and in Rajasthan.

"In the next three days, rain and hailstorms cannot be ruled out from parts of Punjab, Haryana, Delhi and west UP. Thereafter, the trough will shift towards eastern India,” G P Sharma, vice-president at Skymet Weather Services, said. “In Maharashtra, the intensity of rain will go down in the next few days.”

He said mild hail at isolated places in the north might not have a big impact on the standing wheat and mustard crop but if the showers are heavy, it might.

"The rains would reappear from March 11 and last till March 14," Sharma added.

In 2015, the standing crop on 19 million hectares was damaged due to unseasonal rain and hail on almost all parts of north and central India. These started around the same time— the end of February to early March. Though, it did not have much of an impact on the final output, it did aggravate distress in rural India.

P K Joshi, South Asia director at the International Food Policy Research Institute, said mild showers could in fact be good for the standing wheat crop in north and central India. However, if accompanied by heavy hailstorm, as had happened last year, it might damage the crop.

As per second advance estimate of food grain production, India is expected to produce around 94 million tonnes of wheat in the current rabi season, about seven mt more than last year. Mustard production is expected at 6.83 mt, marginally more than last year.

Unseasonal rain may damage wheat, mustard 

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