Cold weather might aid rabi planting in rainfed areas

Sowing of wheat in the week ending January 15 was less than last year, because of less sowing area in the rainfed areas of Uttar Pradesh, Gujarat and Maharashtra.

Low residual soil moisture and unusually warm weather in this season has impacted rabi sowing in these parts.

However, with the weather turning cold in many parts of northern India, officials said sowing might pick up in the coming weeks.

Private weather forecasting company Skymet in its latest weather update said that good winter rains were expected over most parts of India in the next few days. “The spell is expected to be five-day long commencing from January 16 up to January 20.”

Data sourced from the department of agriculture showed that till Friday, wheat was sown in 28.89 million hectares of land, down 1.45 million hectares from the same period last year.

More than the area covered, it is the condition of the standing crop that is of concern. Overall rabi crops have been planted in 57.73 million hectares till Friday, which is 1.84 million hectares less than the same period last year.

Mustard, the major oilseed grown during the rabi season, has been planted in 6.28 million hectares, down from 6.49 million hectares sown during the same period last year.

Pulses has been sown in 13.63 million hectares, around 300,000 hectares less than the same period last year.

Sowing of pulses could continue well into February. With the weather expected to turn colder in the coming days, sowing might pick up. If it does not, the fate of standing rabi crop would hang in the balance as the water level in the 90-odd reservoirs in the country is below last year's levels; it is also less than the average level of the past 10-years.

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