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Timely Arrival of Monsoon 2020 in India – Kharif Planting Status Becomes Crucial Now

Abhijeet Banerjee
Abhijeet Banerjee

This will be the second straight year for India to experience above average monsoon rainfall if the weather forecast reports turn out to be true. As per Skymet and IMD, Southwest monsoon has arrived early in many states, raising hopes for higher farm output and a boost for Asia's third-biggest economy as it reels from the new coronavirus. The southwest monsoon season, which offsets nation’s farm-dependent economy largely, generally arrives first in the southern part of Kerala state in the first week of June and by September, starts retreating from the state of Rajasthan.  

IMD’s June 1st report highlighted that Rainfall over the country as a whole for the 2020 southwest monsoon season (June to September) is most likely to be NORMAL (96% to 104% of long period average (LPA)). India defines average, or normal, rainfall as between 96 per cent and 104 per cent of a 50-year average or Long Period Average of 89 centimeters for the entire four-month season. Last year, monsoon hit the Kerala coast on June 8, after a week's delay. The June 1 probability forecasts given by the IMD suggest a very low probability (only 5%) for monsoon rainfall to be deficient this year. On the other hand, it suggests a very high probability for monsoon rainfall to be normal (41%).  

With India’s local consumption thriving mainly on the summer season crops, intensity and distribution of rainfall for next couple of months shall be important in shaping the production outlook for most of the Kharif or summer sown crops. Or in other words, it will be the sowing conditions or planted area covered etc shall be important in assessing production numbers for key fruits, cereals or vegetables.  Let us be aware of the rainfall required for the important crops:  

Rice is mainly grown in rain fed areas that receive heavy annual rainfall. It requires temperature of around 25 degree Celsius and above and rainfall of more than 100 cm. The growing season of guar is 14 -16 weeks and requires reasonably warm weather and moderate flashing rainfall with abundant sunshine. Excess rain can cause the plant to become more 'leafy' thereby reducing the number of pods or the number of seeds per pod which affects the size and yield of seeds. The crop is generally sown after the monsoon rainfall mostly during second fortnight of July to early August and is harvested in late October early November. Guar is a naturally rain fed crop. Depending on the monsoon rainfall the total size of Guar crop varies from year to year. 

Soybean is moderately drought tolerant requiring a minimum of 400mm of well distributed rainfall during the vegetative growth period which lasts 3-4 months. High moisture requirement is critical at the time of germination, flowering and pod-forming stage. Similarly Arhar or Toor Dal crop requires average rainfall of 600-650 mm with moist conditions for the first eight weeks and drier conditions during flowering and pod development stage, this will result in a highly successful crop. Rains during flowering results in poor pollination. Black gram or Urad cultivation process requires the 60 to 75 cm annual rainfall but heavy rain damage the flower. Bajra is a crop of dry and warm climate and is grown in areas of 40-50 cm of annual rainfall. It never grows in those areas where the annual rainfall exceeds 100 cm. The ideal climate for cultivation of Jowar should be warm and arid and the average annual rainfall should be 45 cm. 

Sugarcane is a tropical plant, therefore, requires a year warm weather to reach maturity. The areas having temperature of 20° to 26°C and an average rainfall of 150 cm are suitable for its cultivation. In many areas water is partly supplemented by the canals. Orange requires annual rainfall of 100-120 cm.  Meanwhile annual rainfall of 55-100 cm is ideal for Cotton cultivation. The Mung crop needs a well-distributed rainfall. Heavy rains at flowering are harmful, even moist winds at this stage interfere with fertilization. It demands annual rainfall of 600-750 mm approximately.  

Monsoon’s timely arrival and departure with moderate rains in the growing regions will the determining factors for getting idea about this year’s production of the respective Agricultural crops.  

A normal Monsoon, with timely arrival would ensure proper sowing of the Kharif crops, which is increases chances of improved productivity and higher sowing – resulting in possibilities of higher production. A higher production implies pressure on prices. Likewise, delay in arrival of Monsoon arrival may result in lower sowing activity for the main kharif crops. On the other hand excessive rainfall in a particular growing area would enhance crop loss or lower productivity/yield risk, leading crop in the output. It is important to note that the Monsoon prediction is very difficult since the Monsoon related activities changes over time over the next 2-3 months during its progress from Kerala towards rest of the Nation. Thus the progress of Monsoon – mainly towards the critical crop growing areas of Central and North-West India remain critical , in order to evaluate how the crop may be affected.  

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