New Delhi, The Centre on Monday said about 8-10 per cent of the wheat crop is estimated to have been damaged due to recent untimely rains and hailstorms in key producing states, but better yield prospects in late-sown areas are expected to make up for the production loss.
Despite the recent inclement weather, Agriculture Commissioner P K Singh asserted that the country’s total wheat production will touch a record 112.2 million tonnes this year as per the second estimate of the agriculture ministry.
India is one of the major producers of wheat, a key staple for a significant population, and the crop damage scenario also comes against the backdrop of persisting high inflation and food security woes globally amid geopolitical uncertainties.
Since the last few weeks, major wheat-growing states of Punjab, Haryana, Uttar Pradesh and Madhya Pradesh have received unseasonal rains accompanied by thunderstorms, hailstorms and gusty winds due to the Western disturbances at a time when the crop was almost ready for harvesting.
Speaking to PTI after a review meeting with senior officials of the major wheat-growing states on the extent of crop damage, Singh said: “The untimely rains and hailstorms have caused both the crop loss at some places as well as yield gains in late sown areas.”
About “8-10 per cent wheat crop damage” is estimated in areas that were affected by lodging (falling of plants to the ground) due to hailstorms, thunderstorm and high-velocity winds, he said.
The extent of damage to wheat acreage is not much considering the country’s total wheat sown area of 34 million hectares this year, he said.
In other places where there were no hailstorms and strong winds, the Agriculture Commissioner said untimely rains have improved the soil moisture and further boosted the yield prospects of the wheat crop.
The fall in temperature during the grain filling stage further improves the yield, he said.
Singh further said: “More area has gained from untimely rains and the crop yields are likely to be higher by 10-15 per cent in late sown areas.”
In Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan, 80 per cent of the wheat crop has been harvested, therefore there has not been much damage to the crop in these two states, he said.
In other states, about 25 per cent of the area under wheat in Uttar Pradesh, Punjab and Haryana was sown late and the untimely rains in these places are helping the crop growth, he added.
“So, the likely dent to be caused due to the crop damage will be offset by the gains in yields. We will no doubt achieve the record wheat production as per the second advance estimate of the agriculture ministry,” Singh said.
The ministry has pegged a record 112.2 million tonne wheat output in the ongoing 2022-23 crop year (July-June).
Last year, unseasonal rains and heat waves led to a fall in domestic wheat production, forcing the government to ban exports to check rising domestic prices.
According to state official data, about 5.23 lakh hectares of wheat crop is estimated to have been damaged in three states of Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan and Uttar Pradesh due to the inclement weather. The assessment of damage in Punjab and Haryana is underway.
Wheat is a major rabi (winter) crop.PTI