Wheat Output in India to Match Record on Winter Rain, Group Says

Wheat production in India, the world’s second-biggest producer, may match last year’s record as cooler temperature and winter rains in the main growing regions boost yields, according to a millers’ group.

The harvest in the crop year that began on July 1 may equal 94.9 million metric tons estimated by the government for the 2011-2012 season, Veena Sharma, secretary of the Roller Flour Millers Federation of India, said in a phone interview today. The farm ministry estimates output this year to drop for the first time in eight years to 92.3 million tons after a below-average monsoon.

Temperatures fell in the main wheat growing areas in India’s northern regions after a spell of rains between Feb. 15 and Feb. 16, said K.K. Singh, head of the agromet division of the India Meteorological Department. The cold wind that followed the rains will be beneficial for wheat, he said.

“As the region has been receiving rains from time to time this winter, wheat crop is not suffering from moisture stress as well as temperature deviation,” Singh said.

Planting dropped to 29.8 million hectares (73.7 million acres) this year from 29.9 million hectares a year earlier, the farm ministry said Feb. 15.

The government, the single biggest buyer of food grains in India, plans to buy a record 44 million tons of wheat from farmers this season, compared with 38.2 million tons a year earlier, the food ministry said in an e-mailed statement today.

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