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Pulse Market Insight #200 JAN 7 2022 | Producers | Pulse Market Insights

Keeping an Eye on Crops in India

The planting season is essentially over for winter (rabi) crops in India. This season is when pulse crops most important to Canadian farmers – peas, lentils and chickpeas – are grown. So it’s worth monitoring how the planting has gone and how the weather situation is developing.

Each week, the Indian government releases planting progress reports that show the area covered by various crops. While there can be questions about the exact numbers, these reports are still somewhat helpful as a sign of how things are developing.

For the most part, India’s rabi planting started slowly, largely because of heavier-than-usual rains at the beginning of the season. Even though planting was delayed, the moisture was seen as beneficial. Since then, planting has progressed well and those delays were erased. As of January 7, Indian farmers have planted 38.6 mln acres of pulses, 4% less than last year but 1% more than the 5-year average.

The picture for individual crops differs a bit. By now, Indian farmers have planted 4.2 mln acres of lentils, 4% more than both last year and the average. Early on, planting was lagging but has since caught up and passed the average. It’s a similar situation for chickpeas (mainly desi but also kabuli), with a slow start but now at 27.0 mln acres, is 8% above average.

One pulse crop that has continued to lag is peas. The latest numbers showed 2.4 mln acres of peas have been planted, 8% less than both last year and the average. At this stage of the year, that’s unlikely to change much, although we have seen sizable revisions in the past, as seen in the chart.

As Canadian farmers know well, acreage numbers are only one part of the story. The weather conditions are a much larger factor yet. As mentioned, the rabi season started with above-average rainfall, which delayed planting but got the crop off to a good start. Since then, rainfall amounts have been reduced (the rabi season is the drier time of the year in India).

Just in the past few days, parts of the country have received more rain again, which is always welcome once planting is complete. As a point of reference, most of the lentils and peas are grown in the north-central and northeastern parts of India. Beyond the changes in acreage, pulse crops in India are generally in good shape. If so, these prospects could limit India’s import requirements in 2022/23.

Pulse Market Insight provides market commentary from Chuck Penner of LeftField Commodity Research to help with pulse marketing decisions.