Wintery conditions marked by lower-than-normal temperature have improved the prospects for a bumper wheat output this rabi season, even though scanty rains could affect other crops including barley, mustard and chickpeas. The standing wheat saplings have gained as day and night temperatures have plummeted, with clear skies boosting the vegetative growth of the crop.
This season, the favourable weather follows timely sowing of wheat and a marginal increase in acreage — it is pegged at around 29 million hectares — which experts say would reflect in output. Wheat is the main rabi crop, sown in October and harvested around April.
“There has been a perceptible drop in temperature in central states including Madhya Pradesh and even in Maharashtra which is highly favourable for the crop of wheat,” Gyanendra Pratap Singh, director Indian Institute of Wheat & Barley Research, told ET. “The prevailing temperature is conductive for a record output of wheat in the current year.”
Despite the low temperature, the frequency of foggy weather has come down considerably compared with recent years. Foggy days are considered favourable for wheat crop as it lowers the day temperature during the vegetative phase of the crop. But the prevailing condition of low temperatures and clear skies is seen as even more conducive for a high yield, as Singh said “clear skies ensures better photosynthesis while the temperature is still low.”
Wheat acreage is estimated to be marginally higher in Uttar Pradesh and Madhya Pradesh, the two largest growers of the cereal. The crop condition is good in Punjab and Haryana as well, where sowing has been completed earlier than last year.
Frosty weather in Rajasthan has led to one of the coldest December for the desert state this winter season. “It is favourable for wheat, but chickpeas and vegetable crops have been affected,” an official of Rajasthan’s agriculture department said. He said five cycles of irrigation were required for wheat, while other rabi crops gained from light showers.
The rabi season in India is usually marked by light rains in the plains and snowfall in the hills. This season,no rains has occurred so far in the wheat-growing states. But the dry weather has limited impact on wheat which is almost entirely grown on irrigated land.
Isolated and scattered rains and snow due to western disturbances forecast over Punjab, northern parts of Haryana, Himachal Pradesh and Jammu & Kashmir are likely to ease the dry spell. This week, dense fog conditions are likely to occur during late night to morning in Punjab, Haryana, Chandigarh, Delhi, West Rajasthan and West Uttar Pradesh.