There is good news on the wheat front as the cereal’s acreage continues to increase this year compared with the year-ago period. An absolute rise in its area is being witnessed every week.

A higher acreage may help the country to harvest a bumper crop this year. In turn, this will help the government procure the required quantity for the Central Pool Stock after procurement dipped to a 15-year low of 18.79 million tonnes (mt) in 2022-23 (April-March).

The total coverage under all the rabi crops was reported 7.21 per cent higher at 358.59 lakh hectares (lh) as of November 25 against 334.46 lh in the year-ago period. The progressive sowing has crossed the halfway mark of the normal rabi season’s acreage of 633.8 lh.

Conducive weather

According to the Agriculture Ministry’s weekly update, the area under wheat has increased by 10.5 per cent to 152.88 lh against 138.35 lh in the year-ago period. Among major producing States, higher sowing has been reported from Madhya Pradesh (up by 6.40 lh), Rajasthan (5.67 lh), Punjab (1.55 lh), Bihar (1.05 lh), Gujarat (0.78 lh) and Uttar Pradesh (0.70 lh). Haryana is the only major State where the acreage trails by 1.05 lh. Last year, the area for the entire season was 309.5 lh.

“So far the weather has been conducive and the early sowing will help the wheat crop. The acreage in Uttar Pradesh, which was initially much higher due to early sowing this year. However, the progress slowed. There are reports of farmers shifting to mustard in some areas of the State,” said an official source.

The total wheat acreage in UP, the largest producer of the cereal, was 35.68 lh as of November 24, the highest since 2018-19. It was 44.24 lh as of November 24 in 2017-18. The area under mustard in the State was 7.63 lh against 7.51 lh a year ago and may touch a record high this year.

Taking toll on pulses

The area under oilseeds has increased by 13.58 per cent to 75.77 lh as of November 25 against 66.71 lh in the year-ago period. Out of this, mustard has been sown on 70.89 lh against 61.96 lh a year ago. Rajasthan, which contributes nearly half of the mustard production in the country, has reported coverage of 37.16 lh, up from 33.6 lh a year ago, while Madhya Pradesh has recorded 12.53 lh against 9.44 lh a year ago.

As both wheat and mustard acreages are higher in Madhya Pradesh, it has taken a toll on the area under pulses, which has slipped to 21.45 lh from 24.76 lh a year ago. Madhya Pradesh is the largest producer of gram (chana) and lentil (masur), both cultivated during winter. While the area under gram is lower by 3.5 lh, lentil acreage is a tad higher from the year ago period.

Total acreage under pulses across the country was nearly at par at 94.26 lh against 94.37 lh a year ago. Coarse cereals were covered on 26.54 lh against 26.70 lh, while paddy sown on 9.14 lh against 8.33 lh, data showed.