India is the world's second largest wheat producer. Until three weeks ago, India was expecting a bumper crop this year, but that was before heavy, unseasonal rains began. Below is a series of articles, in chronological order, showing how torrential rains have wiped out 30 to 40 percent of Indian wheat production.
Commodity Online reports that rough weather threatens Indian wheat harvest.
(emphasis mine) [my comment]
Rough weather threatens wheat harvest
NEW DELHI: Unseasonal rains amid continued rough weather could severely affect India's Rabi harvest of grains especially the early variety of wheat in Punjab and Haryana.
According to a senior official of Punjab Agriculture Department, rains and cloudy conditions if persist for more days at this time when the crop is ready for harvesting, grains of early variety of wheat may turn black which is not good for the crop at this stage.
He further said, "It is very crucial for the wheat crop that overcast or cloudy conditions should not prevail after rains otherwise fungus disease might emerge that will hit crop."
Moreover, the harvesting operations are likely to be delayed by over one week because of rains, even as Punjab and Haryana are geared up for lifting 170 lakh Metric tone of wheat during Rabi Marketing season 2009-10.
Rains have lashed four times during past one week at several parts of the Punjab and Haryana and overcast conditions continued to remain at several places.
Last year also rains lashed at this point of time but the emergence of sunlight proved to be beneficial for crop. About 70-80 per cent of wheat crop is early sown by farmers.
The Punjab government had last week ordered to conduct special revenue survey to assess the damage caused to wheat by rains. As per reports, wheat crop sown on 40,000-45,000 hectares of land was affected by rains. [This was two weeks ago]
Rains have also impacted the harvesting operations of wheat crop. Although there were some reports that wheat growers had started harvesting of crop in Bathinda, Mansa districts of Punjab and Gurgaon, Mahendragarh in Haryana.
Meanwhile, Punjab and Haryana claimed to have made elaborate arrangements for lifting wheat crop in rabi marketing season of 2009-10.
Punjab, this year, is expecting to procure 115 lakh MT of wheat against 105 lakh MT lifted last season. Haryana is also planing to purchase 55 lakh MT this season compared with 52.37 lakh MT lifted last year.
Punjab Newsline Network reports that unseasonal rains gave a heavy blow to farmers in Punjab, Haryana and Himachal Pradesh.
Unseasonal rains gave a heavy blow to farmers in Punjab, Haryana and HP
Punjab Newsline Network
Wednesday, 08 April 2009
CHANDIGARH: The untimely rain come as a shocker to farmers in Punjab, Haryana and Himachal Pradesh as wheat crops suffers massive damage. Experts say if rain does not stop in a day or two then at least 45 per cent wheat crop is likely to be completely ruined [Rain did not stop in a day or two], causing huge loss to the debt ridden farmers in the all three states.
Due to the rain from past two days, the harvesting operations have been delayed in the three states. It was expected that Punjab and Haryana were geared up for lifting 170 lakh Metric Tonnes of wheat during Rabi Marketing season 2009-10 but after the rain the figure will certainly go down.
Not only in Punjab but the wheat crop has been hit all over Haryana. "Loss of wheat crop is more because the crop is at maturity stage. Due to rain wheat crop gets moistened, due to which it can not be harvested. And if the rain continues for another three days it will put farmers in great loss," said Phool Singh Vice President of Kissan Club Ambala district.
President of Bharatiya Kisan Union (BKU) Madan Pal Rana said "a big fall in wheat production has been witnessed in this season due to unseasonal rain and high temperature in month of March. I also wrote a letter to Haryana Chief Minister for compensation but they don't take it seriously," he added.
Same is the case in Himachal Pradesh, farmers of Hamirpur whose main source of income is the agriculture are highly upset with the failure of Rabi crops, first due to non arrival of rains and now with heavy rains lashing the area when crops harvesting seas on is approaching fast. [No rain when it was needed and then too much rain when it wasn't needed... Pretty bad luck.]
Wheat, maize and rice are the three major crops of the district and in the Rabi season, wheat is sown on an area of about thirty-six thousand hectares of land.
Talking to The Pioneer, Prem Kumar Dhumal, HP Chief Minister said "the government is upset with the failure or crops and all sorts of facilities like subsidies and food-grains on cheap rates will be provided to the people to manage their daily needs."
Fresh Plaza reports that hopes of bumper crop washed away in India.
Hopes of bumper crop washed away
India: Rain pours trouble on farmers
Publication date: 4/8/2009
Punjab, in the last few days, has received three spells of hailstorm that has destroyed the standing wheat crop. The damage is still being evaluated.
Agriculture Director Balwinder Singh Sidhu said, "Seven villages in Gidderbaha, 14 in Malout and 24 in Muktsar have been affected. We are calculating the exact area."
Meanwhile, head of the PAU's Department of Agricultural Meteorology Dr GS Bains said, "These rains have resulted due to western disturbances in the northern regions, including Pakistan, J&K;, Punjab and Haryana."
Head of the PAU's Department of Vegetable Crops DS Cheema said, "Sudden torrential rains can also affect vegetable crops, like tomato which is at flowering stage. Diseases, including blight in tomato and downy mildew in cucurbits and pests in okra, can build up in humid conditions. Tomato, capsicum and brinjal growing in net-houses will require ventilation to remove excess humidity."
"Rains can also affect flowering in trees of mango and kinnow. The developing fruits in plum and peach can drop with heavy rainfall and hailstorm can damage pear," said Dr JS Bal, head of the Department of Horticulture, PAU.
In Jalandhar, rainfall and hailstone created a panic among farmers.
Earlier, the showers that lashed Doaba about 10 days ago had damaged 50 per cent of the crop in five villages of Shahkot sub-division.
Chief Agriculture Officer Dr Kulbir Singh said more showers would further damage the crop.
The Hindu Times reports that Punjab lowers wheat output estimates due to rains.
Agri. & Commodities
Punjab lowers wheat output estimates due to rains
Apr 09, 2009
Chandigarh (PTI): With untimely rains causing widespread damage to wheat crop in northern India, Punjab - the major contributor of wheat to the central pool, has now scaled down its estimates of wheat output by five lakh metric tonne (MT) to 150 lakh MT during this season. [Five lakh MT = 500,000 tons]
"I do not think that the wheat production in the state (Punjab) will even cross 150 lakh MT mark because of heavy damage inflicted by rains and hailstorm," a senior official of Punjab Agriculture Department said here.
Punjab had earlier estimated wheat production at 155 lakh MT for this rabi marketing season against last year's output of 157.20 lakh MT.
[155 lakh MT = 15.5 million tons. Remember this number; it represents the "pre-rain" estimate of Punjab wheat production.]
Besides, the total crop arrival during this rabi marketing season is also expected to be lower at 100 lakh MT against the last year's arrival of 105 lakh MT, a development that could also affect the centre's procurement target from the state, wheat experts said.
Unexpected rains during the past one week have hit the wheat crop badly across several parts of the region.
Express India reports that government announces survey of wheat damage.
Wheat damage: Govt announces survey
Posted: Apr 09, 2009 at 2315 hrs IST
Ludhiana The state government has ordered girdawri to access the damage to wheat crop due to recent rains. Chief Secretary Ramesh Inder Singh today said he has asked the deputy commissioners of various districts to calculate the crop damage and submit reports within a week.
Meanwhile, rains continued to pour even today, causing further damage for the crop. Rough estimates put together by the State Department of Agriculture say that the wheat production this year was likely to fall by 4 per cent. [Why are Departments of Agriculture so unrealistically optimistic?]
If showers continued for few more days, Punjab will repeat its dismal performance of 2005-06, when it failed to meet its procurement target of 115 lakh MT and could pick up only 68 lakh MT. The market arrival of wheat was around 81 lakh MT, out of which 13 lakh MT was purchased by private players. That year too, the crop was hit by rains.
[115 - 68 = 47 lakh MT shortfall]
At Khanna grain market, large heaps of wheat crop covered with tarpaulin could be seen. Harbans Singh Rosha, a trader, said, "We have about 30,000 MT wheat lying in the mandi, but because of rains not a single grain was picked up."
He added, "Arhtiyas are waiting for the weather to clear up before procurement can begin."
FNBnews.com reports that April showers hit Indian wheat harvest.
April showers play spoilsport in North, hit wheat harvest
Saturday, April 11, 2009 08:00 IST
Our Bureau, Mumbai
Heavy rains accompanied by hailstorms is said to have inflicted extensive damage to the standing wheat crop in Punjab and adjoining states. Crops of apple and stone fruit have also been hit in Himachal Pradesh. Vegetable crop, gram and even mango orchards have been affected by the hailstorm accompanied by high velocity wind. Hailstorm hit the wheat and other rabi crops in the region for the third time during the past one week
Wheat production is certainly going to be affected. Chief agriculture officer, Punjab, said the quality of wheat as well as the yield was likely to be affected.
The wet spell has not only delayed harvesting of wheat, because it is difficult to harvest wet stems, but it has also made standing crops prone to fungal, insect and pest attacks. BKU president Balbir Singh Rajewal: "I can say with full confidence that there would be a big fall in wheat production in Punjab this year. My estimate is that farmers would suffer a loss of Rs 600 crore and the average yield per acre is unlikely to exceed 16 quintals [no idea what this means but it sounds bad.]."
While the state government has estimated wheat production to be around 150 lakh tonnes, it would be lucky if production touches 100 lakh tonnes, says Rajewal.
[100 lakh tonnes = 10 million tons
Remember that 15.5 million tons "pre-rain" estimate? Pretty drastic change.]
My reaction: It seems that torrential rains have ruined over 5.5 million tons of Indian wheat in the last three weeks.
1) Heavy rains and hailstorms have inflicted massive damage to wheat crops in Punjab, Haryana, and Himachal Pradesh.
2) At least 45 per cent wheat crop is likely to be completely ruined.
3) The Torrential Rains have not only delayed wheat harvesting (because it is difficult to harvest wet stems), but it has also made standing crops prone to fungal, insect, and pest attacks.
4) Punjab's "pre-rain" estimate for wheat crop yield was 15.5 million tons.
5) In the last few week, Punjab has received three spells of hailstorm which have destroyed the standing wheat crop.
6) Punjab's wheat crop yield is now expected to be under 10 million tons.
"I can say with full confidence that there would be a big fall in wheat production in Punjab this year. My estimate is that farmers would suffer a loss of Rs 600 crore and the average yield per acre is unlikely to exceed 16 quintals."
7) If showers continued for a few more days, Punjab will repeat its dismal performance from 2005-06, when only harvested 6.8 million tons of wheat.
Conclusion: The world was already facing a catastrophic fall in 2009 global food production, but this failed harvest of Indian wheat will make the situation worse. Now all three of the world's top food producers (China, India, and the US) are facing major drops in production.