Late arrival of monsoon delays sowing of crops

The southwest monsoon, which waters more than half of India’s farmland, arrived in the southern coast more than a week later than normal.

Monsoon showers reached Kerala on Saturday, said Mrutyunjay Mohapatra, Additional Director General of Meteorology at India Meteorological Department (IMD). The department in May had predicted a June 6 onset for the June-September rainy period. The monsoon typically reaches the southern state on June 1. The private forecaster Skymet Weather Services Pvt. saw it hitting the southern coast on June 7.

The monsoon, which accounts for more than 70% of India’s annual rainfall, is critical to the nation’s crop output and economy.

Farmers of grains, pulses, cotton and sugarcane typically wait for the monsoon to start before they begin planting. Any deficit in showers during the early part of the season could delay sowing and reduce crops, even if the monsoon gathers pace later.

IMD forecast in May that annual rainfall during the monsoon season is likely to be 96% of the long-term average. Last year’s monsoon was 91% of the average, falling under the weather offices definition of a below-normal monsoon and missing forecasts for normal rain for a second year.

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