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Forecasts of heavy rains raise concerns about kharif crops

Forecasts of heavy rains across key central and western growing regions have stoked fears of potential crop losses in the second half of September, industry officials said.

Last week, the weather office said the monsoon, which turned patchy in the first week of September, will pick up in most parts, with rains expected in some of the key farm belts.

Spurred by monsoon rains, farmers have planted a record acreage with crops such as rice, corn, cotton, soybeans and sugarcane.

Rains were 17% above average in June but July rains were 10% below average. The monsoon picked up again in August and were 27% above average.

Heavy rains in August damaged some cotton, pulse and soybean crops in a few pockets. In the absence of any official estimate, trade, industry and government officials say the rains had localised impact and the damage was not widespread.

But heavy rains could cause extensive damage this month when crops ripen.

Torrential rains would damage soybean and peanut which now need a relatively dry spell, said B.V. Mehta, executive director of the Solvent Extractors’ Association of India. Still, soybean output could surpass last year’s 9.3 million tonnes, he said.

“Some pulse crops suffered a bit of damage in August, and now there are concerns about heavy rains in the latter part of this month,” said Vivek Agrawal, who owns JLV Agro, a trading firm.

“We are keeping our fingers crossed.”

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