Agri Business

Kharif outlook: Cyclones Taukte, Yaas leave excess soil moisture ahead of monsoon

Vinson Kurian Thiruvananthapuram | Updated on June 01, 2021

Expected friendly winds should help retain it

Two pre-monsoon and land-falling cyclones ‘Tauktae’ and ‘Yaas’ have brought so much rain into the country’s interior barring North-East India that there’s no lack of moisture anywhere at the moment. This should hold as such and hopefully into the monsoon proper when winds shift to a friendly direction.

This is rare as it is quite unseasonal for India which is used to baking-hot conditions in mid-May, notes GP Sharma, President, Meteorology and Climate Change at Skymet Weather, leading private forecaster.

This has also left the entire landmass, except the North-East, with a rain surplus by May-end.

No marginal surplus either

“And the surplus is not just marginal either,” Sharma pointed out to BusinessLine. Gujarat has a phenomenal 1,078 per cent; Madhya Pradesh is at some distance but has a creditable 293 per cent; Uttar Pradesh, 206 per cent; and Maharashtra, 110 per cent (rainfall for the period from March 1-May 29).

Is the additional moisture good for kharif sowing? “Well, two things here,” Sharma said. “Farmers have to have a good assessment of the next spell of rain after sowing…soil moisture alone will not do. At best, it can hold for a few days. It is very essential that they get this spell after a week or 10 days.”

Also read: Early showers, low mercury to buoy kharif sowing

Watch for next spell of rain

“Unless,” points out Sharma, “we are speaking about a pocket in the irrigation-intensive states of Punjab or Haryana. Farmers there never wait for the monsoon for sowing. They have assured ground water or reservoirs to take up sowing so they can harvest the crop as early as September after a four-month cycle.”

If one looks at it, the agriculture bowl of Maharashtra and Madhya Pradesh in Central India and Punjab, Haryana and parts of North Rajasthan in North-West India do not take a direct hit from a cyclone but end up being ‘peripheral gainers’ of the rainfall bounty as both ‘Tauktae’ and ‘Yaas’ demonstrated clearly.

Peripheral gainers vs vulnerable

But on the other side, when super cyclone ‘Amphan’ (2020) and ‘Yaas’ struck the region, areas close to coast in Bihar and Odisha have proved vulnerable. They also make for another crop-intensive pocket. They are at risk from these land-falling cyclones from the Bay of Bengal.

As mentioned earlier, the agricultural bowl to the North and North-West normally get away lightly unlike this year when ‘Tauktae’ emptied its contents Haryana and even Rajasthan. This is as quirky as it comes, Sharma said. And the ‘Yaas’ remnant went winged its way into Odisha, Jharkhand and even Bihar.

Standing crops affected

Any standing crop there would have been affected. For instance, Malda recorded 30 cm and Purnea, 22 cm in 24 hours. These lands are not meant for such heavy downpour during this time of the year.

Rajasthan is generally arid, so extra 2-4 cm, even if rare, gets absorbed given the nature of the soil and terrain. But this is not the case with East India that had to contend with the ‘Yaas’ remnant.

Assured moisture content

So, in this manner areas over North-West and East India which are generally supposed to be dry during the dries and hottest month of May are today assured of lots of moisture thanks to these storms. As already mentioned, Central India has some states/sub-divisions which are peripheral beneficiaries of the bounty.

States such as Chhattisgarh, Madhya Pradesh and Maharashtra are gainers. Retention of moisture in the soil depends on the wind direction also. Retention becomes sustained if winds are favourable, which emerging monsoon winds tend to be. Hopefully, this should support normal sowing operations.

(This is first of a series of reports on Kharif Outlook that will be appear the next few days.)

Published on May 31, 2021

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