New Delhi: After remaining weak for more than 10 days, the south-west monsoon has quickly gained momentum to cover the entire country 17 days in advance.

“Normally, the monsoon covers most parts of the country by 1 July, except extreme west Rajasthan, where there is high-variability and monsoon takes around 10-15 days to cover it. But this season it has advanced fast and covered even west Rajasthan by 29 June," said M. Mohapatra, head (services) at India Meteorological Department (IMD).

Such early advance over the country last happened in 2013, according to IMD.

However, a 10-day break in monsoon beginning 13 June has slowed down planting of rain-fed kharif crops.

Sowing of kharif crops was completed in 16.5 million hectares till Friday, about 46% less than last year, data from the agriculture ministry showed. Normally, by this time of the year about 22.5 million hectares are planted. Planting, however, is likely to pick up pace now that the monsoon has covered the entire country.

Close to 106 million hectares are planted under kharif crops every year, and farmers continue to sow crops till mid- July.

So far, farmers have sown a significantly lower area under cotton (14% less than last year) and oilseeds (11.5% less), agriculture ministry data showed.

The only crop where planting is above normal is sugarcane with 5 million hectares covered so far compared to the five-year average of 4.5 million hectares.

Planting of soya bean is 7% lower year-on-year, while that of groundnut is 5% lower than last year.

After arriving three days early on 29 May over the Kerala coast, the monsoon advanced over the south peninsula and brought heavy rainfall along the west coast. However, it began to weaken around 13 June and went into a lull phase for about 10 days, until it began to revive around 23 June. Its movement remained sluggish until 24 June when it again picked up pace.

The country has so far received 149.4mm rainfall against the normal of 155.5mm, with a 4% deficit in rainfall.

Out of 36 sub-divisions, 11 remain rain deficient to large-deficient (-20% to -99 %), 13 have experienced excess to large-excess rains (+20% to over +60%), while 12 sub-divisions have witnessed normal rains (-19% to +19 %). The Gujarat region, including Kutch and Saurashtra, Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Jharkhand, Odisha and the north-eastern states have received deficient rainfall.