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Monsoon Rains in India Exceed 50-Year Average, Boosting Crops

Monsoon rain in India that exceeded the 50-year average for the first time in two years is set to boost winter-crop planting, said a government official.

“Good soil moisture will definitely favor planting and because of more than normal rains, ground water has also been recharged,” K.K. Singh, head of agro-met division in the India Meteorological Department, said in a phone interview.

Monsoon rains irrigate 55 percent of India’s farmland. Rainfall last year was less than average, reducing production of food grains, cotton and sugar cane.

India targets output of 128.5 million metric tons of food grain including 92.5 million tons of wheat from the winter harvest, Agriculture Commissioner J.S. Sandhu said Sept. 24. Wheat and rapeseed are the two major winter crops. Food-grain production may reach a record in the year that began July 1, Agriculture Minister Sharad Pawar said on the same day.

The September rains will increase the area under winter crops and water levels in dams are comfortable, helping irrigation, said Singh. Seeding of winter crops normally starts from Oct. 1, he said.

Monsoon rains were 90.55 centimeters between June 1 and Sept. 25, exceeding the 50-year average of 89 centimeters, the India Meteorological Department said on its website. Central, southern and northwest regions received above normal rain, while the east and northeast got below average showers, it said.

As much as 39 percent of the area in India received excess rains while they were normal in 47 percent of the country and deficient in 14 percent, said the department.

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