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Friday, 24 January 2014

India Sights Record Wheat Crop This Year

India may be heading for a record wheat output this year with a prolonged spell of chilly weather interspersed with rains over the northern breadbasket region brightening the crop outlook, a senior government official said Thursday.
A bumper wheat crop will aid the government's plan to roll out a food security law that will provide nearly-free grains to around 70% of the people.
Wheat output abounds in cool weather and that is why farmers plant the crop in the winter months of October-November and harvest it in early summer, between March and April.
"I am becoming more and more optimistic about this year's crop. So far, the weather has been excellent," said Veena Sharma, head of India's state-run Directorate of Wheat Research, located in the northern Indian town of Karnal.
She said production could touch around 100 million metric tons this year, provided there was no abnormal warming of weather ahead of harvest.
India needs around 60 million tons of grain annually to implement the food security law.
The area under wheat has grown to 31 million hectares from 29.6 million hectares last year.
Weather conditions so far have been congenial for tillering, or development of shoots from the base of the plant, which are important to wheat yields.
India's wheat output had hit a record of 94.88 million metric tons for the crop year that ended June 2012, but had dipped to 92.4 million tons last year due to bad weather.
The wheat crop in pockets of the northern states of Punjab and Haryana had been attacked by stripe rust fungal disease this month, but its spread was contained with farmers sparing fungicides with the help of government workers, she said.
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Pankaj Katba
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