India Meteorological Department (IMD) on Thursday predicted above normal rainfall, quantitatively more than 109 per cent of long period average (LPA) of 167.9 mm this month with most regions likely to receive excess precipitation, potentially threatening standing crops ready for harvest.

Releasing the forecast for the month and performance of monsoon during August, IMD’s Director-General M Mohapatra said: “Normal to above normal rainfall probability is high over most parts of India except many parts of north-east and some areas of east and north-west India that may experience below normal rainfall.”

Below par for Jharkhand

He said during August, the overall monsoon was 3 per cent above normal which was in line with IMD’s prediction for the month. However, except in the case of Odisha and Chhattisgarh where below normal rainfall was expected, all other States received the precipitation as per forecast, he said.

For September, the IMD forecast says Jharkhand may not get normal rainfall, but some parts of Bihar may get rains helping the State to some extent. Western Uttar Pradesh, which has been reeling with 44 per cent deficient rains, may get above normal rains this month helping farmers to save crops, but States in the eastern region are likely to be deficient. They received 44 per cent below normal rainfall in first three months.

Beneficial for rabi

Mohapatra declined to comment on the withdrawal of monsoon but indicated that there could be some delay since depression is expected during the first week, which will impact the monsoon trough. Monsoon withdrawal starts normally from Rajasthan around September and a delayed retreat may help rabi crops since soil moisture will be good for an early sowing.

“This year’s monsoon has been erratic. While UP reels under deficient rainfall, eastern UP districts are flooded. As kharif crops are maturing, one only hopes that September will not receive excessive rainfall. One good news is that the water level in reservoirs is quite high and that should be good for rabi crop,” said former agriculture secretary Siraj Hussain.

The government has been targetting 163.15 million tonnes (mt) of foodgrains this kharif season from an area of over 73 million hectares (mh), including 112 mt of rice from 41.31 mh.

The area under all kharif crops has reached 104.51 mh as of August 26, down from 106.19 mh year-ago, according to the weekly update released by the Agriculture Ministry. While cotton, sugarcane and coarse cereals have reported higher acreage, the area under paddy, pulses and oilseeds declined.

Collateral damage

“Rajasthan has seen unusually high rain this year for which farmers were not prepared for and crops like bajra may not need rains in September. An excess rainfall this month may not augur good for moong and bajra as risk of pest will be higher,” said Rampal Jat of Kisan Mahapanchayat.

The IMD’s map depicting the likely rainfall in September State-wise shows that Bundelkhand, north interior Karnataka and Marathwada regions are likely receive excess rain while parts of eastern Rajasthan, Rayalaseema in Telangana, Kutch in Gujarat and Konkan in Maharashtra may also experience above normal rainfall.

“As most of the kharif crops are standing on the field at this stage to be harvested commencing October any incessant excess rainfall is bad and is expected to cause collateral damage irrespective of the region or crop reducing the yields.,” said Chattanathan Devarajan, Co-founder, The damage and impact can only be assessed only how distributed or skewed the rainfall will be, he said.

“The sowing operations across India will benefit from the “well distributed” rains, which will also offer the economy’s general growth and the farm sector a much-needed boost. It will be the fourth year in a row with normal or above normal monsoon rainfall if the forecast comes true.,” said Neeraj Kumar Jindal, Director, Safex Chemicals.

The projected heavy rains this month will adversely affect the crops. “Cotton first picking is on its way and it’s not good to have excessive rainfall. Similarly, even paddy in most of the States is in its early stages and excess showers are going to damage its flowers,” said Akhilesh Jain, Co-founder, Agritech India.

Though IMD’s Mohapatra declined to comment on the likely upgradation of the season forecast from the June prediction of 103 per cent of LPA, at least 183.01 mm rainfall if received this month the seasonal monsoon rains could end with 107 per cent precipitation.

(With inputs from Subamani Ra Mancombu, Chennai)