NEW DEHLI, INDIA — India’s grain production for the 2014-15 market year is estimated at 252.7 million tonnes, a marginal increase from May’s estimate, but a 5% drop from last year’s record crop of 265 million tonnes. The drop was mostly due to the delayed 2014 monsoon and untimely rains during harvest of winter planted crops, according to India’s Ministry of Agriculture’s Fourth Advanced Estimates of Production of Food Grain released on Aug. 17.
The production estimates for rice and corn are raised, but lowered for wheat and pulses.
2014-15 grain production includes rice, coarse grains, and pulses harvested last fall and this spring (market year 2014-15), and wheat and barley crops harvested in March-May, 2015 (market year 2015-16). Typically, the fourth advance estimates are subject to minor revisions when they are finalized in February 2016.
As of the last week of July, India’s 2015 monsoon has been patchy in most parts of the country with prolonged periodic dry spells and uneven regional distribution. August’s average precipitation was 22% below the long-term average, particularly in the Gangetic plains, and throughout most of peninsular India. The Ministry of Agriculture reported that the rainfall deficiency levels during August in some areas were the highest since 1993.
According to the Indian Meteorological Department (IMD), India’s cumulative precipitation from June through Aug. 26 was 12% below the seasonal long-term average. Rainfall was reported normal in 21 weather subdivisions, and rainfall was deficient in the remaining 15 sub-divisions, to include agriculturally important states of Punjab, Haryana, Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Maharashtra, Telangana and parts of Gujarat and Madhya Pradesh.
After a strong start in June, the planting of fall harvested crops slowed in August. The 2015-16 market year 2015-16 grains include rice, coarse grains (corn, sorghum, millet), and pulses (pigeon pea, mung bean, black matpe).
Adequate monsoonal rains during the critical planting period (June through mid-July) supported higher planting of coarse grains and pulses. However, relatively deficient rain since the last week of July slowed planting of rice. However, rice enjoys a relatively long planting window and can continue through the first week of September, the Ministry of Agriculture reported. The planting season for other food grains concluded during the third week of August. Due to deficient rains in August, the standing crops are likely facing moisture stress, particularly in unirrigated areas (55% of net cultivated areas), although to date there are no official reports of crop damage. September rains will be critical for crop growth and attaining the forecast productivity for the upcoming market year.
Despite relatively deficient rains in August, the Ministry of Agriculture continues to estimate 2015-16 market year rice production unchanged at 104 million tonnes based on timely and near-normal planting. Despite the slowdown in rice planting in August, the ministry estimates rice area planted through Aug. 27, at 34.6 million hectares, marginally higher than last year and consistent with the last five-year average for the corresponding period.
The planting for rice has concluded in most states, except for some pockets in the eastern region, and coastal Andhra Pradesh and Tamil Nadu. While rice faces moisture stress in most growing areas, to date, there have not been any official reports of crop damage in the unirrigated areas. The rice crop is performing well in the irrigated areas. However, rains in unirrigated areas during the first two weeks of September are critical for rice to attain the forecast production. Assuming normal rainfall levels during September, production for the 2015-16 market year is forecast at 104 million tonnes from 44 million hectares. However, deficient rains and/or a prolonged dry spell in September andearly October, as well as a cyclonic build-up in September and October could lower the current forecast.
Rice production in 2014-15 was increased to 104.8 mllion tonnes, largely due to higher than anticipated yields in the central and eastern states.
The 2015-16 market year wheat production estimates is revised to 88.9 million tonnes, about 7% lower than the 2014-15 market year record production of 95.9 million tonnes. India’s 2015-16 wheat harvest was adversely affected by unfavorable weather (untimely rains, hail, and strong winds) during harvest (late February through mid-April) resulting in significant crop damage due to lodging and other harvest losses. The Ministry of Agriculture has steadily revised the 2015-16 market year wheat production estimate lower from its initial February 2015 estimate of 95.8 million tonnes based on the information from state governments. Consumption for 2015-16 has been marginally revised to 89.9 million tonnes to account for the revision in the production estimate.
While revisions in the production estimates for millet, sorghum and barley have been minor, corn production estimate has been revised significantly higher to 23.7 million tonnes from the Ministry of Agriculture’s third advance estimate of 22.7 million tonnes. However, most market sources continue to estimate 2014-15 market year corn production in the range of 20 to 21 million tonnes based on the market supply and price situation.