Even as wheat acreage was a tad higher from a year ago in the top 4 producing states, where yield is relatively higher, the industry will wait till harvest starts in March and will not speculate on production due to potential risk from adverse weather during the grain filling stage, said Rajnikant Rai, CEO of ITC’s agribusiness division.

Wheat acreage in the ongoing season has reported higher at 239.79 lakh hectares (lh) in the top four producing states of Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, Punjab and Haryana until December 29 as against 237.37 lh in the year-ago period, up by 1 per cent. These four states share over 75 per cent of the country’s total wheat production and 93 per cent in procurement for the Central Pool stock.

Speaking to business line, Rai said: “One per cent plus or minus is not a big thing. Because the crop’s output will also depend on weather in next two months.”

The government has set a target of 114 million tonnes (mt) of wheat production from the current season. In 2022-23, the agriculture ministry claimed the output to be 110.55 mt, up from 107.74 mt in 2021-22, private trade and industry have put last year’s crop estimate at not more than 105 mt.

Elaborating further, he said that in the winter, at least one rain is critical for wheat. The ideal time for rain is late January or early February, he said and added that temperature at a time of maturity will also play a big role in deciding the yield or production.

After exceeding the season’s normal area of 307.32 lh, pan-India wheat acreage further narrowed the deficit against the year ago with a gap of about 4 lh until December 29. Latest data show that wheat acreage has reached 320.54 lh compared with 324.58 lh year ago, down by 1 per cent. The deficit was 2 per cent until December 22.

On the overall acreage of wheat across the country, Rai said that the higher area in some states could also be due to timing as early or normal planting against last year’s delayed start to sowing could portray a different picture. “Sowing of wheat is still continuing in eastern Uttar Pradesh and Bihar and is expected to continue until mid-January,” he said.

Agriculture ministry’s data show that the acreage in Uttar Pradesh was at 96.73 lh as on December 29, up from 94.96 lh year-ago, 84.63 lh this year against 83.95 lh last year in Madhya Pradesh, 34.9 lh versus 34.93 lh in Punjab and flat 23.53 lh in Haryana. But Rajasthan has reported wheat sowing area at 28.4 lh, which is 3 per cent less than 29.37 lh, and Bihar has 7 per cent lower acreage at 18.64 lh against 19.98 lh.