Wheat production may exceed the targeted 114 million tonnes (mt) this year on good weather and higher acreage of climate-resilient varieties, said Gyanendra Singh, director of Karnal-based Indian Institute of Wheat and Barley Research (IIWBR).

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“Wheat crop in India as of now is in excellent conditions. There is no disease, the area has marginally increased from last year and the progress of crop is very well. If everything goes well (for another month), we can easily touch the target, and might even cross that,” Singh told businessline on the sidelines of the ICAR conference of vice-chancellors of central and State agriculture universities.

The government has set production target at 114 mt after wheat output in 2022-23 reached a record 110.55 mt.

Singh said though there is no cause for worry so far, there is uncertainty over recurring temperature fluctuations. The two factors that need a close watch until the start of are the western disturbances and high temperature.

As western disturbance causes thunderstorm and unseasonal heavy rainfall, it could potentially result in waterlogging in the fields and damage to the wheat crop. High temperature in the third and fourth week of March is also seen as a negative for wheat yield.

Singh, however, said that with the deployment of climate-resilient varieties in over 80 per cent of the area, he is confident of reaching the target despite any such challenges.

Wheat acreage this year stood at 341.57 lakh hectares (lh) compared with 339.20 lh in 2022-23. Uttar Pradesh, the largest producer of wheat, has reported the highest acreage of over 102.40 lh, up by 5 per cent, and it has helped offset lower coverage in Rajasthan and Maharashtra. The acreage in Bihar, Punjab and Haryana is almost at par with last year, but it is higher by 80,000 hectares in Madhya Pradesh.

Meanwhile, India Meteorological Department (IMD) on Monday predicted a western disturbance that is likely to affect the western Himalayan region from February 29 and adjoining plains during March 1-4, with peak intensity on March 1-2. High moisture feeding from the Arabian Sea to northwest India is also likely during March 1-2, IMD said in the evening bulletin.

“Under its influence, fairly widespread to widespread light/moderate rainfall accompanied with thunderstorms and lightning are very likely over the western Himalayan region during March 1–3. Scattered to fairly widespread light/moderate rainfall accompanied with thunderstorms and lightning very likely over Punjab, Haryana, Delhi and isolated to scattered light/moderate rainfall over Uttar Pradesh, Rajasthan on March 1-2,” it said.

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Isolated heavy rainfall/snowfall has also been predicted over the Western Himalayan Region on March 1-2, while IMD says hailstorm activity may be at isolated places over Uttarakhand on March 1. Hailstorm at isolated places over south Madhya Pradesh, Vidarbha region and south Chhattisgarh has been forecast for Monday and Tuesday.

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