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India Increases Wheat Harvest Estimate to Near Record on Weather

Wheat harvest in India, the world’s second-biggest grower, may be more than forecast previously after cooler weather and winter rains boosted crop prospects, the Agriculture Ministry said.

Production will be 93.6 million metric tons in the year ending June, compared with 92.3 million tons estimated in February and a record 94.9 million tons a year earlier, the ministry said in a statement in New Delhi today. Total food grain harvest, including rice and corn, will drop to 255.4 million tons from 259.3 million a year earlier, it said.

A bigger crop may lower local prices, boosting prospects for exports as the South Asian nation runs out of space to store the grain. Shipments from India have slowed after a rally in domestic prices cut demand for grain in Southeast Asia and Africa, according to Pravin Dongre, chairman of the India Pulses & Grains Association.

State stockpiles in India climbed 21 percent to 24.2 million tons at the start of April from a year earlier and more than thrice the quantity needed as buffer and emergency reserves, according to official data.

Rice output may fall to 104.2 million tons from 105.3 million tons, while corn production is seen at 21.8 million tons, little changed from a year earlier, the ministry said. Sugar cane output will drop 6.9 percent to 336.2 million tons this year, while cotton harvest may fall 3.9 percent to 33.8 million bales of 170 kilograms each, the ministry said. Oilseed output, including soybeans and mustard, will increase to 30.7 million tons from 29.8 million in 2011-2012, it said.

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