Indian states of Punjab, Haryana may harvest 300 lakh tonnes of wheat this season; El Nino may spoil the party next year

With an extended winter and spell of rain at regular intervals during the ongoing Rabi season, the key grain growing States of Punjab and Haryana are expected to reap a bumper harvest of wheat at nearly 300 lakh tonnes.

For the state of Punjab, the agriculture department is expecting about 180 lakh tonnes of wheat production this season against 175 lakh tonnes in 2018. The neighboring state of Haryana is expecting to reap 120 lakh tonnes of wheat, which is almost the same to what the State produced last year.

However, harvesting of the crop may be delayed by at least a week as more showers and gusty winds are expected in the region during the next 2-3 days, industry sources said.

Meteorological Department’s forecast of a fresh western disturbance, likely to affect the region from March 25, could bring more rain. This, experts said, could delay the harvesting of crop due to increased moisture content.

Meanwhile, US weather agencies have forecast a 60% chance of El Nino continuing through summer. The forecast, if it holds, could cast a shadow over India’s rainy season. And its harvest produce for next year’s kharif season.

A weak El Nino was finally declared to have set in over the Pacific Ocean in February by several weather agencies. Since then, these conditions have strengthened and most international weather agencies now predict that El Nino would persist for the next few months.

However, there is yet uncertainty over how the El Nino would last. Weather agencies warn that El Nino forecasts during March tend to have lower credibility because conditions could change in the spring season.

El Nino is an abnormal warming of ocean waters in the east and central equatorial Pacific, which leads to changes in atmospheric circulations that impact weather over many parts of the world. Often, but not always, these impacts include a weakening of monsoon rainfall over India. A weak El Nino can adversely impact the monsoon as much as a strong one.

An India Meteorological Department bulletin, released earlier this month, also says a weak El Nino has set in. But IMD’s models show El Nino could dissipate by June-July.

Shekhar Ghosh is consulting editor, Indoasiancommodities.com. He has edited and written for publications like Business India, Business Standard, Business Today, Outlook and many other international publications. He can be reached at shekhar.ghosh@indoasiancommodities.in.

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