Rise in temperature in some parts of India unlikely to impact wheat crop

The current increase in the maximum temperature is not a concern for the standing wheat crop in India as the major producing States of Punjab, Haryana, Uttar Pradesh and Rajasthan have not been affected, while the harvest in most of these areas, where the day temperature has increased, has been completed. This comes amidst the Government closely monitoring the wheat crop with record harvest being projected.

“The wheat has been harvested in those parts where the temperature crossed 41 degrees Celsius, even if the crop arrival is slow. It is the most favourable season for wheat till date, per IMD records,” said Gyanendra Singh, director of Haryana’s Karnal-based Indian Institute of Wheat and Barley Research (IIWBR) under Indian Council of Agricultural Research (ICAR).

According to Singh, there is no threat to the crop until the maximum temperature crosses 38 degrees Celsius and the minimum breaches 27 degrees Celsius. He hopes that the wheat will be harvested by then in the entire country. In Haryana, farmers are likely to start harvesting in the first week of April and in Punjab and UP from second week of next month, official sources said.

Major change unlikely

According to India Meteorological Department (IMD) data, the maximum temperatures were in the range of 40-42 deg Celsius on March 28 at some places over west Madhya Pradesh, Vidarbha, Gujarat region, Marathwada, madhya Maharashtra and west Rajasthan. Maximum temperatures were in the range 32-35 degrees Celsius over the Indo-Gangetic plane comprising of Punjab and remaining parts of north Haryana and north Uttar Pradesh, north Bihar.

IMD said in a bulletin that significant change in maximum temperatures are unlikely over northwest India during next 24 hours and fall by 2-3 deg Celsius thereafter. But, gradual rise in maximum temperatures by 2-3 deg Celsius is pedicted over Central India in next two days and no significant change thereafter.

Heat wave conditions are predicted in isolated pockets over Vidarbha on March 29-30 and warm night is likely to prevail in isolated pockets over Gujarat, Marathwada and madhya Maharashtra on March 28-29.

While the Agriculture Ministry has pegged the wheat production to be 112.02 million tonnes (mt) for the 2023-24 crop year (July-June), the Food Ministry has pegged the likely procurement to be 37.29 mt in the marketing year beginning April 1.

Targetted buys

The Centre hopes to buy 13 mt of wheat from Punjab in 2024-25 against 12.11 mt bought in 2023-24. Similarly for Haryana and Madhya Pradesh, the target is to buy 8 mt, each whereas the actual procurement was 6.32 mt and 7.1 mt, respectively. The target for Rajasthan has been fixed at 2 mt whereas actual purchase was 0.44 mt in 2023.

The Government is betting big in Uttar Pradesh by setting a target to procure 6 mt whereas only 0.22 mt was purchased last year. The State government has already conveyed informally to traders, stockists, processors and big companies to stay away from the market until the government procures the targetted quantity.

The Centre has already purchased over 1,00,000 tonnes of wheat from Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan as on March 27 against about 11,000 tonnes a year ago, after making an early start to the procurement season from normal April 1. Purchases in Rajasthan officially started from March 13 and in Madhya Pradesh from March 17, sources said.

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