New Delhi: Planting of winter crops has been completed in 80% of the total crop area, with higher sowing of pulses and a significantly lower area under oilseeds, shows data released by the agriculture ministry on Friday.

According to the data, planting of wheat, the main winter or rabi crop, is marginally behind last year’s numbers.

So far 51.4 million hectares (ha) have been planted under different crops, about 1% more than the area planted by this time last year, according to the ministry. Normally 62 million ha is sown during the rabi season. Planting begins by October and the crops are harvested March onwards.

Area under wheat is 2% lower than last year. Wheat has so far been planted in 24.5 million ha, compared to the 25 million ha last year. However, late planting and a warmer-than-usual winter may have a bearing on the yield.

Area under pulses is higher by almost 9% year-on-year, shows the data. So far 13.8 million ha have been planted under different pulses, against 12.7 million ha last year. Planting of gram or chana, the main winter pulse, is nearly 14% higher than last year (2016-17).

The data also showed lower planting of oilseeds, with area under mustard about 7% lower year-on-year. So far, about 7.5 million ha have been planted under different oilseeds.

A robust winter harvest is critical for India to improve its farm growth rate as production of rain-fed kharif foodgrains during 2017-18 is estimated to be 2.8% lower year-on-year following patchy rains during the June-September south-west monsoon.

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