Kharif crop sowing picks up pace, but sunflower lags

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The area under kharif crops across India was at 108.9 million hectares (ha) as of Friday, compared with 108.8 ha a year ago, according to data from the Department of Agriculture and Farmers Welfare.

The acreage of paddy, the key grain in the kharif season, was up 3% on year at 40.3 ha. Paddy sowing has picked up pace in the last few weeks, aided by rainfall across the country, especially in the east and northeastern parts. Central and south peninsula have also received adequate rainfall since the beginning of September after a poor monsoon in August.

The area under coarse cereals was at 18.2 ha, slightly higher than 18.1 ha a year ago, ministry data showed. The area under oilseeds was down 1% at 19.1 ha, while pulses acreage fell 9% to 12.0 ha.

Sowing of pulses has taken a hit this season because erratic rainfall in key growing regions made farmers shift to other remunerative crops such as soybean and small millets in hope of better returns. Soybean acreage in the country was 1% higher on year as of today, according to the data. Sowing of cotton fell 1% to 12.5 ha as of Friday, the data showed.

Meanwhile, acreage under sugarcane was 8% higher at nearly 6 ha as of Friday, the data showed. There have been concerns that sugarcane production may suffer in India next season, and there will be shortage of sugar supply from the current season. However, the government has reiterated that the country has sufficient stocks of sugar, which will be enough to meet domestic demand.

As for sunflower, sowing this kharif season was lagging by a whopping 65% as of Friday. Major sunflower growing states such as Maharashtra and Karnataka have received deficient precipitation so far this monsoon season, according to data from the India Meteorological Department. This has taken a major toll on sowing of the crop.

The weather department has projected that rainfall in September will be normal at 91-109% of the long-period average, with normal to above-normal precipitation over east and northeast India and some areas of east-central and south peninsular regions.

Key takeaways:

  • Area under kharif crops is up slightly from last year, but sowing of pulses is lagging due to erratic rainfall.
  • Acreage under sugarcane is up, but there are concerns about production next season.
  • Sowing of sunflower is lagging due to deficient rainfall in major growing states.
  • Rainfall in September is expected to be normal, with above-normal precipitation in some areas.

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