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No concern for wheat if temp prevails below 35-degree C in mid-March: IARI

India is set to harvest a record 112.18 million tonnes of wheat in the 2022-23 crop year (July-June) as per the second estimate released by the agriculture ministry

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Press Trust of India New Delhi
Amid concerns over the impact of rising temperature on wheat yields, government-research body IARI on Wednesday said the situation is not alarming right now even as it advised farmers to be ready to take contingent measures like light irrigation in case of temperature soars beyond 35-degree celsius in mid-March.
Wheat, a major rabi (winter) crop, would be ready for harvest next month. As the Met office has forecast rising temperatures in parts of the country, farmers are worried about a repeat of last year when the heatwave hit the crop yields.
Speaking with PTI, Indian Agricultural Research Institute (IARI) Director A K Singh said: "The IMD (India Meteorological Department) has forecast that temperature would remain 2-degree celsius above normal but below 35-degree celsius till the first fortnight of March. A below 35-degree celsius temperature is not a concern for the wheat crop."

IARI's agriculture and weather scientists explained heat is a major concern during the crop maturity stage in mid-March. The impact on the crop is likely only if temperatures remain above 35 degrees celsius continuously for four days.
Suppose the temperature rises by 2 degrees celsius above normal and then comes down the next day, then there is not much impact because the wheat plant has the ability to cope with it, they added.
"The condition of timely and even late sown wheat crop is good as of now. There is no cause for concern right now," said Rajbir Yadav, Principal Scientist and wheat breeder at IARI.
If the temperature remains around the range of 31-32 degrees celsius in mid-March, farmers can continue with their routine farm operations. The only intervention the farmers can do when the temperature crosses 35 degrees celsius somewhere in mid-March then as a precaution should apply irrigation two days in advance, he said.
According to IARI's Principal Scientist (weather) Vinay Sehgal said farmers should keep a watch and be ready with contingent measures like applying light irrigation and mid-noon sprinklers.
The next weather update will come on February 24, which could give a clear picture of the next month, he added.
Meanwhile, the Market Intelligence and Analytics (MI&A) research of CRISIL in a statement said: "If the prevailing high temperatures continue through March, the rabi wheat crop will be impacted and yields would at best be on a par or marginally lesser than last year's low."

In Uttar Pradesh, which accounts for 30 per cent of India's total wheat production, the eastern part is expected to have relatively good yields on-year because of timely sowing after harvest of kharif paddy, it said.
On the other hand, western UP could see a marginal decline due to late sowing majorly in the sugarcane belt if high temperatures persist in March, it added.
Whereas in Punjab and Haryana, which together account for 25 per cent of India's wheat production late-sown wheat is in the flowering stage, while the early-sown lot is in the milking stage. "High temperatures are detrimental to grain formation in both these stages."

Similarly, in Madhya Pradesh, which accounts for 20 per cent of India's wheat production, late-sown wheat is at the milking stage. But Bihar saw early sowing and the crop there is at the grain formation/maturation stage. Therefore, it could be impacted relatively less, the CRISIL said.
According to the CRISIL report, "Though such abiotic factors cannot be managed very effectively, farmers in Punjab, Haryana and western UP are said to have initiated spraying of crop nutrients such as bio-stimulants and specialty fertilisers, which should help them cope with the heat wave to some extent."

While wheat prices have been on a downward trend in the past 20 days, if these high temperatures persist for the next 20 days, there could be a turnaround in prices, it warned.
Farmers' leader Ajay Vir Jakhar had on February 21 tweeted: "This week, average daytime temperature 5.5 degrees C above normal and 3.3 degree C at night-time. Farmers fear a repeat of last year's crop loss which actually got magnified due to lack of availability of canal water & cleaning canals remains a worry."

It may be noted that the government has set up a committee to assess the possible impact of rising temperatures on wheat crops and issue necessary advisories to the farmers.
India is set to harvest a record 112.18 million tonnes of wheat in the 2022-23 crop year (July-June) as per the second estimate released by the agriculture ministry.
The country's wheat production fell to 106.84 million tonnes in the 2021-22 crop year from 109.59 million tonnes in the previous year due to heat waves in a few growing states.
The Centre had banned wheat exports in May last year to control rising prices, after a slight fall in domestic production and a sharp decline in the FCI's procurement for the central pool.

(Only the headline and picture of this report may have been reworked by the Business Standard staff; the rest of the content is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

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First Published: Feb 22 2023 | 7:24 PM IST

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