Global Economy

Unseasonal rains and hail affect rabi crops in North India

Unseasonal rains and hailstorms over the past few days in northern India have impacted Rabi crops like mustard, wheat, gram and potato. Mustard crop, which should have come to the market in the first week of February, will now be delayed by three weeks as harvesting will not start till the fields dry up.

Sensing that the crop arrival will be delayed, wholesale prices of mustard oil have shot up by Rs 5 per litre over the last one week.

The unseasonal rainfall that started from the second week has been beneficial for some crops, while impacting the growth of few others.

For mustard and gram crops, especially in Rajasthan, hailstorms this month has been detrimental specially in districts like Bharatpur, Dholpur and Kota due to which there has been significant damage to the standing crop, said Hetal Gandhi, director, Crisil Research.

However, at this stage of crop for gram and mustard, rainfall is considered quite beneficial for their growth. But any prolonged rains, during the harvesting stage of mustard and gram may impact the oil content and crop quality respectively.

“The acreage under mustard crop has gone up to 90 lakh hectares this year compared to 72.5 lakh hectares. We are expecting a crop size of 106 lakh tonnes this year,” said B.V. Mehta, executive director of the Solvent Extractors Association of India.

In case of wheat, in eastern and western UP and Punjab, excessive rains have caused water logging near root zones, leading to yellowing of the crop which is at tillering stage now in these states. If rainfall recedes the impact of the waterlogging on yield will not be very significant. “However, cold conditions at this stage of wheat are beneficial for overall health,” said Gandhi.

The biggest damage due to excessive rainfall is expected in the potato crop, especially in states like Uttar Pradesh, Rajasthan and Punjab. Excessive rains and waterlogged conditions in potato leads to diseases like late blight, which has already been reported in Rajasthan and Uttar Pradesh. The late blight disease significantly impacts yields.

“In Punjab, with excessive rains in the potato belt, damage up to 10-15% of sown area is expected,” the Crisil executive said.

Current prices of mustard seeds are in the range of Rs 8200 per quintal “Delay in arrival is not expected to have much impact on prices of oilseeds as well as mustard oil as arrival of bumper crop is already factored in the market. According to market reports, February price is hovering around Rs 6600 per quintal,” said Mehta.


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