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Erratic Weather Lowers India’s Chance to Reap Record Wheat Crop

Heavy rain and hail struck India’s wheat belt just before harvest, denting the chance for the country to reap a record crop.

Flattened wheat crops following heavy rain and strong winds in Amritsar, India.
Flattened wheat crops following heavy rain and strong winds in Amritsar, India.

Heavy rain and hail struck India’s wheat belt just before harvest, denting the chance for the country to reap a record crop.

The storms spanned the northwest last weekend, where most wheat is grown. About 150,000 hectares (370,658 acres) of wheat and rapeseed were hit in Punjab, said Jaswant Singh, director at the farm ministry in the state, known as the country’s food bowl. Damage in the region is still being assessed, he said.

In neighboring Haryana, farmer Anil Kalyan — who planted wheat on about 16 hectares — said some of his fields were flattened. It’s a setback for crops, which may also face hotter-than-average temperatures this month.

The farm ministry in February predicted a record harvest of 112 million tons this year, and farmers will begin collecting crops in April. A downturn may lower the chance India will lift shipment curbs, which have been in place since 2022 as the government seeks to ensure food security and contain prices.

Still, the affected area in Punjab only accounts for less than 0.5% of the country’s wheat and rapeseed plantings and officials expect some of the affected crops to recover. Gyanendra Singh, head of the state-run Indian Institute of Wheat and Barley Research, said some of the wheat bent by the bad weather will revive and the crop looks “very good” overall.

--With assistance from Jason Scott.

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