Soil moisture deficiency may force re-sowing of maize, soyabean in some states

Soil moisture deficiency in Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra and parts of Rajasthan has raised the prospect of re-sowing of some rain-dependent kharif crops, including maize and soyabean.

Even as the Indian Meteorological Department (IMD) on Tuesday declared that monsoon rains have covered the entire country, large parts of the country are still waiting for good spells of rain to save the crops in the field. Farmers have complained that the weather office’s short-term forecasts–issued for a fortnight—on which they based their decision to sow, were off the mark.

“We started sowing maize and soybean last week expecting good rainfall, as predicted by IMD. Now there is uncertainty ruling about all that sowing,” said Arun More, a progressive farmer from Nashik in Maharashtra. “If it does not rain for another three days, then more than 50% of the sown crops around Pimpalgaon Baswant area will be lost.”

According to government data, kharif sowing in the country is trailing by 10%.

According to the data shared by IMD, between July 1 and July 13, 14 states had rainfall deficit of 20-59%. The deficiency is as high as 60-99% in Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh and Haryana. Five states received normal rainfall during this period, while two states received excess and two states ‘large excess’ rainfall.

In Maharashtra, as on July 5, sowing of maize, jowar and bajra has been lagging by 4%, 47% and 43%, respectively, when compared with the year-ago period. Sowing of cotton is lagging by 19%, while overall kharif sowing, including that of sugarcane, is lagging by 14%.

“We do understand that longterm forecasts can fail. However, even the short-term forecasts have failed miserably this monsoon season,” said More.

High temperatures in northern and northwestern India have subjected the kharif crops to moisture stress. While in the peninsular states, it is the break in monsoon that has affected the crops.

“Moisture stress has started affecting states like Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra and Rajasthan. Farmers may be forced to resow soyabean, but availability of seeds may become a challenge,” said SMC Research in its report on Tuesday.

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