The Cyclone Michaung which brought about heavy rains to parts of Andhra Pradesh may shrink the chilli crop by about a fifth, exporters said. Besides, the harvest of the chilli crop is likely to be delayed by about a month due to pushback in planting season on account of inadequate water availability.

Sambasiva Rao Velagapudi, Chairman, All India Chilli Exporters Association in Guntur, said the chilli crop may be impacted by about 15-20 per cent due to the impact of the cyclone.

The crop has been damaged in the districts of Guntur, Ongole, Krishna and Khammam among others due to the rains, Rao said. However, there has been no damage to the crop in Kurnool and Warangal districts of Telangana, he added.

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Andhra is the largest producer of red chillies, followed by Telangana and Madhya Pradesh. Cyclone Michaung, which crossed the Andhra coast, has turned into a deep depression bringing in heavy rains in the State.

“It is too early to quantify the extent of damage. In some affected areas, farmers may prefer to take up the re-planting. A clear picture on the crop size would emerge in about 15-20 days as the black soil region, in which the crop is widely grown, may take time to dry,” Rao said.

In view of the impact of the cyclone on the upcoming crop, red chilli prices are up by ₹5 per kg in markets like Guntur and Khammam on Wednesday. “We expect the prices to go up further by another Rs 10,” Rao added.

Ravipati Peraiah of Vijayakrishna Spices in Hyderabad said the rains are rather helpful for the crop in Andhra Pradesh which has largely seen a delayed planting this year due to lack of adequate water availability. Only the crop which was planted on time and which is currently in the flowering and fruit formation stages and accounts for only about 10-20 per cent of the overall crop is partially affected, he said.

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Peraiah said the harvest of the chilli crop will begin in February end in the major growing districts. In districts such as Kurnool and Anantapur, where the crop was planted on time, the harvest will take place from January.

The chilli stocks in the cold storages of Andhra are estimated to be around 35 lakh bags of 40 kg each, while in Telangana the stocks are around 10-12 lakh bags, he said.

According to the second advance estimates for 2022-23, India’s red chilli crop is seen at over 20.59 lakh tonnes (lt). Andhra tops the production with 7.67 lt, followed by Telangana at 5.06 lt and Madhya Pradesh at 3.22 lt. In Karnataka, the production is estimated at 1.67 lt.