Monsoon rains just above normal in past week

Monsoon rains just above normal in past week

New Delhi: India’s monsoon rains were 1% above normal in the week to 14 September, weakening from 39% above average in the previous week, the weather office said on Thursday, easing concerns heavy rains could damage planted crops.

Withdrawal of the June to September monsoon could now happen after 25 September, a source at the weather office said. “Heavy rains in some pockets of the eastern region resulted in floods but now things have settled down," said the source.

“There is no sign of the withdrawal of the monsoon as yet," said B.P. Yadav, director of forecasting at the weather office.

The monsoon rains have so far been 3% above long-term averages since the start of the season, in line with the weather office’s latest forecast of a normal monsoon in 2011, which means rains of 96 to 104% of a long-term average.

India’s monsoon rains are crucial to crop production in 60% of the country that does not have adequate irrigation.

Normal rains so far over major crop producing regions have helped planting of summer crops like rice, cane and oilseeds, and boosted prospects for their output.

Output of summer-planted grains is expected at 123.88 million tonnes, farm minister Sharad Pawar said on Wednesday, releasing the first of the four forecasts for the 2011-12 crop year.

Rains have been particularly heavy recently in Orissa and Bihar, traditional rice-growing areas.