India monsoon 3% above 50-year average, improves crop prospects but may hamper harvesting of key summer-sown crops rice, oilseeds, sugarcane, cotton, analysts say

LOS ANGELES , September 8, 2011 () – India has had 3% more rain than the widely watched 50-year average so far in the monsoon season that began June 1, and analysts say the increase in rainfall has improved crop prospects, but warned that harvesting could be delayed and hit yields from key summer-sown crops including rice, oilseeds, sugarcane and cotton, The Wall Street Journal reported Sept. 8.

The monsoon is currently active in western, northwestern, and parts of central India, and rainfall was 39% above average in the week to Sept. 7, with the country receiving 66.9 millimeters of rains, versus the 50-year average of 48.3 millimeters during this time of the season, according to a senior Pune-based official from the Indian Meteorological Department.

The above-average rainfall has improved the crop outlook, but the unusual pattern could delay planting and hurt rice, a senior agro-economist said. Lower rains in July may have delayed rice planting, though rice acreage is up 12% year-over-year to 35.75 million hectares (88.3 million acres) as of Sept. 12, the senior agro-economist added.

Overall rainfall plays a key role in determining farm output but the timing and distribution of rains are also key to ensuring good crops.

A good monsoon season increases rural farm income and boosts the wider economy through higher spending on consumer goods and lower prices on food items, though food prices may not fall if late and excessisve rains hurt crops in some regions.

The primary source of this article is The Wall Street Journal, New York, New York, on Sept. 8, 2011.

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