Farmers have sown rabi crops in over 70 per cent of the 633.80 lakh hectares (lh) of the normal area so far, some 6 per cent higher from the year-ago period. Higher acreage and potentially conducive weather throughout the season may help the country to have another year of bumper harvest.

The total rabi acreage is 450.61 lh as of December 2 against 423.52 lh in the corresponding period a year ago, the Agriculture Ministry said in its weekly update. Wheat, the key winter-grown cereal, has been planted on 211.62 lh against 200.85 lh, up 5.4 per cent.

The absolute increase in area under wheat from the year-ago level has narrowed down for the first time after rising almost every week since the beginning of the sowing season. Until October 28, the increase in wheat area was 20,000 hectares from the year-ago level, but it surged to 14.53 lh as of November 25, whereas it now stands at 10.77 lh.

Warm winter forecast

“The early sowing of wheat helped maintain the lead over the previous year. It looks the acreage will be either at par or marginally higher from last year when the season ends as both the major influencing factors favour wheat,” said SK Singh, an agriculture scientist. Both weather is good and prices are robust, he said.

Many parts of north-west India, the key producing region of wheat, mustard and chana (gram), may see a warmer winter season primarily due to likely subdued activity of western disturbances, the India Meteorological Department said on December 1. Though there could be variations in the temperature on a day-to-day basis, “normal to above normal minimum temperatures” are most likely over many parts of the region, IMD said in its forecast for the main winter season (December-February).

Pulses acreage has increased to 112.67 lh as of December 2 from 108.57 lh a year ago. The main winter-grown chana acreage was 79.82 lh against 75.80 lh. The area under oilseeds, too, has increased to 83.07 lh from 75.55 lh as mustard acreage increased to 76.69 lh from 69.32 lh, the data showed.

The area under winter paddy has increased to 10.62 lh from 9.53 lh while coarse cereals acreage is up at 32.63 lh from 29.02 lh.