NEW DELHI, INDIA — India is projecting a record wheat harvest of 112.7 million tonnes in 2023, affirming an earlier estimate of 112.2 million tonnes, despite lower yields from storm-damaged crops, Reuters reported, citing the Ministry of Agriculture & Farmers' Welfare.

The country grows only one wheat crop in a year, with planting in October and November, and harvesting from March. In February and March, torrential rains and hailstorms hit India’s fertile northern, central and western plains, damaging the ripening wheat crop.

A record harvest would dramatically reverse last year’s heat-impacted production of 107.74 million tonnes, which was down from 109.59 million tonnes in 2021, according to the ministry. 

India, the world’s second-largest producer of wheat behind only China, banned exports in May 2022 after a sharp and sudden rise in temperatures clipped output, although exports picked up somewhat to meet the global shortfall triggered by Russia’s February 2022 invasion of Ukraine.

Despite the expected rise in output, India is likely to continue limiting wheat exports as it seeks to replenish state reserves and bring down domestic prices for the staple grain. The country’s wheat procurement in 2023 could fall by 20% from the initial estimate, as government purchases have slowed down after local prices jumped.

India exported 5.5 million tonnes of wheat in marketing year 2022-23 but is projected by the Foreign Agricultural Service of the US Department of Agriculture to ship just 1 million tonnes in the coming year.

Meanwhile, India raised its rice production estimate for 2022-23 to a record 135.5 million tonnes from an earlier estimate of 130.8 million tonnes, the ministry said.

India banned overseas shipments of broken rice and imposed a 20% duty on exports of various other grades in September 2022 amid concerns over production because of below-average monsoon rainfall in key growing states.