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Pulse Market Insight #243 NOV 24 2023 | Producers | Pulse Market Insights

Update on India

This is the time of year when we start to look more closely at the situation for Indian crops. Farmers in India are currently planting rabi crops, which include peas, lentils and chickpeas. Since these crops are most directly linked to demand for Canadian pulses, it’s important to monitor what’s happening with planting progress and weather.

The Indian Ag Ministry issues weekly reports of planting progress for the main rabi crops which provide a rough picture of how this year’s season compares to previous years. This year, planting started early with progress running ahead of normal in early November. Two weeks ago, planting appeared to have slowed significantly but has now bounced back again. As of November 24, pea planting is 5% above the 5-year average, lentils are up 13% while chickpeas (the main rabi pulse) are 2% below average.

Of course, besides acreage, yields are equally critical for the crop outlook. Even though planting is still in its early stages, there are already question marks about the weather and crop prospects. The map shows rabi season rainfall since the beginning of October, with below-average rain (on the map, yellow means more serious shortfalls than red) in large parts of central India.

The majority of Indian pea and lentil acreage is located in the north-central part of the country, with the states of Madhya Pradesh and Uttar Pradesh the two largest producers. Other states in the northeast, where rainfall has been more plentiful, also produce some lentils and peas. The main chickpea producing states are Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra and Rajasthan, all in the west side of the country where dryness is most concerning.

The situation in November is definitely too early to make or break the crop as seed is just going in the ground. Our understanding is that the most important timeframe for crop development is the middle of December to late January. And besides the rainfall amounts, temperature is the other critical feature that can make the moisture situation better or worse. Both are worth tracking.

It’s too soon to draw any firm conclusions about Indian crop prospects, but we expect concerns about rabi pulse production are rising within the country. That’s especially the case since lentil imports are already running at record levels. So far, prices of most pulses (other than peas) aren’t showing much response and there aren’t any indications the Indian government is planning to reduce barriers on imports of peas. That said, we’re not going to rule anything out either.

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