Favourable weather conditions and expectations of remunerative prices are the encouraging factors for the farmers to grow more wheat in the ongoing rabi season and India may hit a fresh record for the seventh consecutive year, said a top agricultural scientist, who expects wheat production to cross 112 million tonnes in the current crop year 2021-22.
Dr. Gyanendra Pratap Singh, Director, Indian Institute of Wheat and Barley Research (IIWBR) has to say that the weather conditions are seen quite favourable for wheat cultivation and ideal sowing season going on.
"Some areas under mustard seed and chickpea may shift to wheat this year because rains received in the month of October may have affected the early sown crops," he said. Several wheat-growing states, including Madhya Pradesh, India's second-largest wheat producer, after Uttar Pradesh, received rains in October as the southwest monsoon withdrew late this year, making it the seventh-most delayed retreat since 1975, according to the India Meteorological Department(IMD).
Wheat producing states received good monsoon rains this year which helped the farmers in sowing as soil has good moisture conditions and there was no need of watering the field in several areas before sowing.
Wheat sowing is reportedly complete in a large part of Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan while it is in progress in other parts of the country. As per the agricultural expert, farmers will prefer to cultivate late variety of wheat where moisture condition is still high in the soil while ideal time of mustard seed and chickpea sowing will be over.
Besides, the winter season is expected to remain severe this year which is favourable for wheat crop because wheat crop will be benefited if colder weather conditions persist during the season, said Dr. Singh who has predicted for the higher production of wheat this year ahead of sowing. However, the area under wheat will not increase much but the higher yield will enhance the production, he added.
DBW 187, DBW 303 and 222 are some of the varieties giving high yield will boost wheat production this year, said Dr. Singh. The yield of DBW 187 and DBW 303 varieties of wheat remain around 75-80 quintals per hectare and the farmers have already used these varieties, even this year these varieties of seed have been utilised in a large area where sowing completed in October itself, he added. Recently, some of the bio-fortified crop varieties including high wheat varieties of 327 and 332 were launched which have a yield potential of around 77-80 quintals per hectare, IIWBR director said.
Previously, high-yield and bio-fortified varieties were different, but now our research institute is developing such varieties having all characteristics in one and these crop varieties are climate resilient as well, he added.
He advised the farmers to complete wheat sowing within the ideal period and use the appropriate varieties of seed where the farm is not prepared for sowing. Where wheat is sown after harvest of paddy, like in Bihar and Eastern part of Uttar Pradesh where paddy harvesting delays and wheat sowing continues till December, farmers should use late varieties. Wheat crop which normally takes 140-150 days gives high yield while short-duration crop gives low yield. Wheat crop normally has a long duration in Punjab and Haryana where yield is better as average yield of wheat crop in Punjab is 52.5 quintals per hectare while farmers of the state took early 80 quintals per hectare, Dr. Singh said.
The national average wheat yield is 35 quintal per hectare. Farmers are also taking interest in wheat cultivation as they expect better and remunerative prices for their produce after the Indian wheat has attracted good export demand.
In a recent report, the USDA attaché has pegged India's wheat export in 2021-22 at 5 million tonnes, an eight-year high after 2013-14 when the country shipped 55.72 lakh tonnes of wheat to the overseas markets. Farmers are also confident of good prices as the government has been procuring wheat aggressively in past years, he added. The government of India procured a record 433.44 lakh tonnes of wheat during the rabi marketing season 2021-22 and the wheat procurement shows an increasing trend since 2017-18 and every year, a fresh record has been made. Obviously, farmers across the country will hope for better and remunerative prices for wheat crop this year. As per the fourth and final advance production estimates for crop year 2020-21, India's wheat production is 109.52 million tonnes, a new record for the sixth consecutive year.