India’s Foreign Agricultural Service (FAS) attaché office issued its Oilseeds and Products Update at the end of August. In the report, the Post trimmed its expectations for India’s 2019/20 marketing year soybean crop by 1.5 million tonnes to 10.5 million on 11.2 million hectares. In April, the Post was looking for output of 12.0 million tonnes on 11.6 million hectares. The culprit for the lower output ideas was the erratic nature of this year’s Southwest Monsoon. Delayed onset of the Monsoon rains early in the planting season kept some farmers from seeding oilseeds, particularly in the key Central India region where soybeans and groundnuts (peanuts) are major crops. Not only did the erratic rains limit seedings, but the Post also noted that yields are expected to decline 9.1% from the office’s latest estimate of 2018/19 yields. Lower yields were noted in some areas due to heavy rains that fell the second week of August on fields planted to short-growing cultivars.
As of mid-August, India’s Ministry of Agriculture estimated that 14.7 million hectares were planted to kharif soybean, groundnut and sunflower crops. This was seen near last year’s totals and plantings were buoyed by near-ideal conditions as the planting window persisted into mid-July and into late-July in some areas. The Post maintained its groundnut output and area estimates at 5.6 million tonnes from 4.5 million hectares in April and noted that growing conditions in the western state of Gujarat, where 45% of groundnuts are planted, will be determining factor in the ultimate size of the upcoming crop. The Post sees India’s sunflower output slipping 50,000 tonnes from the Post’s estimate for 2018/19 as slightly smaller plantings are expected along with a yield reduction of 18.4%.
The following map published by India’s Meteorological Department (IMD) shows that since the beginning, India’s rainfall has been just 1% above normal with 26 divisions reporting normal to excessive rainfall totals. The problem with this year’s Monsoon, however, has been that most areas were dry until late July when heavy rains allowed the seasonal progress to catch up.