Intense cold over, impact on Indian crops clear only by end-Feb/March – report

 

The intense cold wave conditions over most parts of northern and central India might end in the next few days and temperatures could again gradually rise from then onwards, the Business Standard newspaper quoted top official of the India Meteorological Department (IMD) as saying.

“As of today (Thursday), it looks like the intense cold conditions might not return soon,” IMD director general L.S. Rathore told Business Standard.

This, experts said, might not have an immediate impact on the standing wheat and mustard crop and the gradual increase in temperature might not actually be very bad, the nespaper reported, adding that the the winter so far has been less intense than 2015. In fact, the September-to-December period had been among the warmest in recent times.

The newspaper reported officials as saying that any tangible impact on the standing wheat and mustard crop in the current season could be judged by end of February and March. “In rain-fed areas, any sudden or sharp increase in temperature could lead to withering of crops, while in irrigated areas it would mean more that farmers would have to run their pumps for greater duration,” it aded.

According to the latest data from the department of agriculture, sowing of wheat took place on around 29.25 million hectares till Thursday, around 1.34 million hectares less than previous year. The shortfall was mainly due to less area covered in Uttar Pradesh and Madhya Pradesh, two of the country’s main wheat growing states.

“It is too early to make any firm prediction on the final wheat harvest. The recent cold wave conditions have been beneficial and if the temperature remains cool till the middle of February with gradual increase then there should not be any problem with the standing crop,” P K Joshi, director South-Asia of International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI), told Business Standard.

 

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