Heavy September rains ensure normal monsoon for third straight year

India’s 2021 monsoon season officially came to an end on Thursday, marking a third consecutive year of normal summer rains and setting the stage for another year of record-high kharif crop production. Strong precipitation in September almost made up for the patchy performance in end July and most of August, the official forecaster said.

The monsoon rainfall may persist for some more time in October as the moisture-laden winds continue to blow across the country. Total rainfall over the crucial June-September season was 0.7% below the long-period average of 88 centimetres, as per data from the IMD.

A deviation of 4% from the long-period average is considered normal.

The government expects a record foodgrain production of 150.50 million tonnes in the kharif season, 12.71 million tonnes more than the average foodgrain production of the previous five years (2015-16 to 2019-20).

As per the first advance estimates released by the agriculture ministry last week, 23.39 million tonnes of oilseeds, 36.22 million cotton bales (of 170 kg each), 9.61 million bales (of 180 kg each) of jute and mesta, and 419.25 million tonnes of sugarcane production are expected this season.

Delayed withdrawal

This year’s monsoon withdrawal is shaping up to be the second most delayed on record, IMD said. Already two weeks past their normal withdrawal date, they will only begin their retreat from mainland India by October 6, it said. “We have only seen strong September rainfall over the past three years, which has led to delayed withdrawals,” said Sivananda Pai, head of long-range forecasting at IMD.

Patchy distribution

Rainfall intensity throughout the four-month period alternated between weak and strong phases. While June saw monsoon winds moving at a rapid pace and covering three-fourths of the country over the first three weeks, July and August saw historically low rainfall.

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