Indian monsoon rains catch-up, but pulse crops still at risk

Winnipeg – Heavy rains in recent weeks have brought India’s monsoon rainfall back up to normal levels after a slow and dry start to the season, according to reports out of the country. However, flooding and the uneven distribution of moisture could still hurt crop production.

A normal monsoon is 96-104 percent of the 50-year long period average (LPA). Rainfall is considered deficient if it is below 90 percent of LPA.

The monsoon recovery was led by northwest, central and southern India, which account for close to 85 percent of agricultural output.

“The improvement in reservoir levels and summer crop sowing has been significant, especially compared to our last update on the monsoon,” said a report from Standard Chartered. “The higher reservoir levels, which are now close to the historical trend, bode well for winter crops.”

“However, the rapid recovery has led to flooding in several parts of the country,” said the Standard Chartered report adding “the uneven temporal distribution of rainfall could impact crop output due to the damage caused by flooding/drought.”

Heavy flooding has already led to at least 350 deaths in India this year, with forecasts calling for the heaviest rains to continue through Aug. 22.

Seeding of kharif season crops was slightly behind the normal pace in the latest report from India’s Agriculture Ministry for the week ended August 16. Indian farmers had seeded 12.09 million hectares of pulses as of August 16, which compares with 12.53 million at the same time a year ago.

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