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Crop Outlook is Positive, But Climate Challenges Exist

Despite the Center’s projection of a record output of 112 million tonnes this season, the rising February temperatures in some parts of western and north India have once again raised concerns over the wheat crop.


GS Paper-3: Climate Change, Agriculture Cropping Pattern and issues related to it

Mains Question

Talk about the climatic requirements for wheat cultivation. Provide solutions for preventing early summers. (150 words)

Key Points:

  • After the centre initially predicted an output of 111 million tonnes, an unprecedented heat wave in March and April caused a depleted output at 107 million tonnes last year.
  • According to a study on “heat wave 2022” by the Central Research Institute for Dryland Agriculture, an organisation affiliated with the International Center for Agricultural Research (ICAR), wheat yields decreased by 15 to 25% last year due to an extreme combination of high temperatures and little rainfall in March and April.

The Crop of wheat

  • Wheat is a Rabi crop that is grown from September to December and harvested from February to May.
  • Uttar Pradesh, Punjab, Haryana, Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan, Bihar, and Gujarat are India’s top wheat-producing states.

The Climate Prerequisites for wheat

  • The best wheat is grown in regions that benefit from cool, moist weather for the majority of the growing season, followed by dry, warm weather to allow the grain to ripen properly.
  • Although wheat seeds can germinate in the temperature range of 5 to 35 c, the ideal temperature range for ideal germination is 20 to 25 c.
  • Rainfall immediately following sowing hinders germination and promotes seedling blight. Wheat is not suitable for growing in warm, humid climates.

Soil Requirements for wheat

  • Wheat cultivation is best suited to soils with a clay loam or loam texture, good structure, and a moderate water holding capacity.
  • Because wheat is susceptible to water logging, heavy soils with poor structure and drainage are not recommended.
  • Central Research Institute for Dryland Agriculture (CRIDA)
  • With a mandate to conduct basic and applied research in rainfed farming, the Central Research Institute for Dryland Agriculture (CRIDA) was founded in 1985 as a National Research Institute under the Indian Council of Agricultural Research (ICAR).
  • This is the lead Institute and the National Nodal point for the National Innovations in Climate Resilient Agriculture (NICRA), which is being implemented at a significant number of Research Institutes of ICAR, State Agricultural Universities, and 100 KVKs. The Institute also engages in national and international collaborations and consultancy projects.
  • Reasons for the warmer February include the absence in 2022 of the western disturbances that typically bring rain and prolong wintry conditions into February and March.
  • They are essential to maintaining the equilibrium between India’s agriculture and weather.
  • In their absence, a ‘anti-cyclone’ from the Arabian desert with high temperatures and pressure develops. Western disturbances have been weak this year as well.
  • Crops are not currently in danger because this month’s nights have been cool, despite the fact that daytime temperatures have been above average in parts of the north, centre, and west.

Western disturbance: what is it?

  • A western disturbance is an additional tropical storm that forms in the Mediterranean and moves westward, up to northern Bangladesh and southern Nepal. It brings sudden winter rain to the northern parts of the Indian subcontinent.
  • It is a westerly-driven non-monsoonal precipitation pattern. These storms typically get their moisture from the Mediterranean, Caspian, and Black Seas. Unlike their tropical counterparts, which carry moisture in the lower atmosphere, extra tropical storms typically carry moisture in the upper atmosphere.
  • In the case of the Indian subcontinent, moisture is occasionally shed as rain when the storm system encounters the Himalayas. In the winter, western disturbances are more frequent and more intense.

Preparing For Early Summers:

  • Wheat grows best at temperatures between 15 and 30 degrees Celsius until the end of March.
  • According to some meteorologists, the frequency of western disturbances is predicted to decrease during the winter.
  • As a result, the farm ecosystem for rabi should be ready to handle a summer equinox.
  • In 151 clusters of villages in north and west India that are vulnerable to climate change, an ICAR project has been working on heat-resistant varieties and other techniques.
  • Making sure that wheat is sown early is one way to combat the heat.
  • Direct sowing of short-duration rice varieties aids in the planting of wheat towards the end of October.
    • Crops planted in the second week of November 2021 suffered significantly.
    • Near-normal yields (97%) were achieved last year with quick sowing of the wheat crop with a “happy seeder”; similar success was also seen with heat-tolerant varieties. It is crucial to spread awareness of these varieties as well as cooling techniques like mulching and shading.


  • With an area of 34.1 million hectares, the wheat crop appears to be doing well compared to last year.
  • Although there are signs that early sowing has increased, farming practises must change to reflect the new climate realities.

December 2023