India’s recent heat wave is expected to slice more than 5% from the country’s current wheat harvest. Nevertheless, India is still forecast to produce its third-biggest wheat crop ever and to export record amounts of the grain.
Concerns had been mounting worldwide that India’s record heat could cut into planned wheat exports at a time when the Russia-Ukraine war is squeezing global grain supplies. India’s food ministry reduced its estimate for the wheat harvest by 5.4% to 105 million tonnes, but said exports would not be affected.
India exported a record 7 million tonnes of wheat in the 12 months ended in February, nearly four times as much as in the preceding year.
In Punjab, India’s largest wheat producing region, some of the highest daily temperatures in at least 40 years were recorded in March and April. The damage to wheat yields would have been worse had the crop not already been at a mature stage. In addition, much of India’s wheat crop is irrigated, reducing the impact of the extreme heat.
Soil moisture in Punjab’s wheat-growing areas slumped to its lowest levels in at least a decade, as shown by Gro’s Climate Risk Navigator for Agriculture, which can highlight growing conditions weighted for a specific crop.
India is the world’s second-largest producer of wheat, although exports can vary sharply year to year depending on production volumes. Wheat exports for the current marketing year ended in March were forecast at 8.5 million tonnes. While a record, such quantities are dwarfed by reduced shipments from Ukraine and Russia, which last year exported 17 million tonnes and 39 million tonnes of wheat, respectively.