The Monsoon rains would typical arrive along the south coast of India at about the 1st of June and would move into the Mumbai (Bombay) area by June 10th. This year the early part of the Monsoon was delayed but not by enough to be overly concerned about. However, the push towards the northwest after June 10th was quite a different story.
The leading edge of the Monsoon became stuck for awhile and did not make it's final push towards northwest India until after July 15th. In a normal year the Monsoon would reach to near the Pakistan boarder by July 1st. The delayed rains lead to delays in planting for summer crops in the key oilseed and cotton areas of west-central and northwest India.
When the rains finally arrived there was enough rain within a few week period to help ease concerns, somewhat. This lead to increased plantings of the soybean, groundnut and cotton crops in the area and cautious optimism.
However, during the most recent week it appears that the rains have backed away from northwest and west-central India. If this were to be the withdrawal of the Monsoon it would be exceptionally early. This would likely mean a sharp reduction is production for many key crops. This would include those already mentioned as well as others, such as sugarcane, wheat and rapeseed.
While it does not appear that the rains will be moving back towards northwest India during the medium range period it is too soon to call this the withdrawal. It is likely only a break in the Monsoon at this moment. This will allow for a continued planting pace for any crops that still have not been planted and crops will rely on the moisture that was put down when the rains were active over the prior 3 weeks.
One thing we need to watch at this time is temperatures. As the soils dry out due to the lack of meaningful rains the temperatures will turn hotter. This will increase stress to developing crops, especially the soybean crop in west Madhya Pradesh and possibly the sugarcane crop in northwest India as well. Cotton and sorghum crops are better able to handle the heat so long as soil moisture and/or irrigation is adequate.
The longer this drier pattern holds through northwest and west-central India, the higher the risk will be to summer crops and also to winter crops that will be planted later in the year. This weather pattern needs to be watched.
© Copyright 2014 DTN/The Progressive Farmer. All rights reserved.