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Improved Conditions Boost Prospects for India’s Upcoming Wheat Harvest

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India’s upcoming wheat harvest looks set to exceed last year’s crop following recent improvements in growing conditions, Gro’s machine learning-based forecast model currently predicts. 

India’s wheat production is especially important this year, as the country’s inventories of the grain are at the lowest level in 15 years, as seen in this Gro display. Another disappointing crop year could push India to become a net importer of wheat for the first time since 2017 to meet demand.

Growing conditions have improved since late 2023, when erratic monsoon rains drove down soil moisture levels. Cooler temperatures in January helped recharge soil moisture, especially in Uttar Pradesh, the top wheat producing state, as seen in this display from Gro’s Climate Risk Navigator for Agriculture

Gro’s vegetative health index, weighted for India’s wheat growing areas, began rising steadily on January 24 and is currently close to the highest levels seen since at least 2000, as shown in this Navigator display

That has pushed Gro’s India Wheat Yield Forecast Model higher by about 4% since the start of 2024. 

Growing conditions bear close monitoring ahead of the wheat harvest, which begins in March, as conditions can change. Currently, temperatures in India’s major wheat growing states are forecasted to run slightly above normal through June, according to Gro’s Climate Indicator Forecast. However, forecasts made months in advance contain a high degree of uncertainty.  

In the past two years, high temperatures just before harvest cut the size of India’s wheat crop considerably, as Gro highlighted here.

Even as CBOT wheat futures prices have declined, tight supplies have kept India’s prices high. In 2022, the country restricted exports of wheat, wheat flour, and sugar in an effort to rein in prices. It also banned exports of non-basmati white rice in July 2023, as Gro wrote about here

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