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Commodity Intelligence Report
February 21, 2006

India: Excessive Heat Stresses India's Wheat Crop

Prospects for the 2006/07 winter grain season in India were mostly positive until the recent heat wave.  Typically early February marks the start of the gradual rise of daytime temperatures until May when temperatures peak for the season. However, this year not only did temperatures begin to increase in early January they rose 3 to 7 degrees above normal by mid-February in the major wheat growing regions of India.

The following graph shows the sudden rise in temperature beginning mid-January and culminating in the  7-degree rise above the long-term average.  The wheat areas of Punjab and Haryana typically produce 31 percent of India's total wheat.

Rise in temperature and India wheat in Punjab-Haryana.

In addition, the other major wheat producing states also experienced significant increases in temperature during the same time period though not to the same degree as recorded in the states of Punjab and Haryana.  The following map shows above normal temperatures throughout India's wheat belt (outlined in green).

Higher than normal temperatures throughout India's main wheat region.

India's 2006/07 wheat crop was planted in November-December 2005 and will be harvested mainly in April 2006.  Planted area for this crop increased slightly from last year due to higher government support price and well-timed rains in September-October that created excellent sowing conditions for the start of the season. The latest Ministry of Agriculture report estimates the wheat crop has been sown on 26.5 million hectares against 26.4 million during the corresponding period of last year with an expected output of 73 million tons according to the Government of India (GOI) sources.

The major determining factor for the crop from this point forward will be the weather.  The critical time period for wheat development is the reproductive stage which occurs during late February into early March.  The higher temperatures this season are likely to accelerate the maturity and reduce yield.  USDA will release its initial estimates of 2006/07 grain production in May.

The major concern of heat stress at this stage is moisture stress as the crop enters the reproductive stage and thereby lowering the potential grain count. The state governments have  recommended farmers to apply additional irrigations to remediate effects of heat stress.

For more information contact Jim Crutchfield | | (202) 690-0135

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View enlarged image of India wheat production.