Guarded Optimism on Maize, Despite Rise in Acreage

As acreages under maize scale a new high this kharif season aided by ample rains, the prospects of a good harvest have turned brighter this year.
However, the predictions of excess rains in September by the Met could possibly dent the output and quality of the produce, experts and traders said.
Farmers across the country, lured by the relatively higher prices ahead of the kharif planting season, have sown an additional area of close to one million hectares (see table) under maize or corn this year, while the late planting was still going on in some areas.
States such as Bihar, Karnataka, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Telangana and Uttar Pradesh have clocked an increase in area over last year. Both trade and agri-experts are unanimous that the crop size will be bigger than last year, but it was too early to fix a size.
The USDA has projected that India’s total corn output including kharif and rabi would expand by 2 million tonnes (mt) this year to around 23 mt. The USDA has pegged India’s kharif corn output this year at 15.5 mt.
Weather plays truant
The IMD has forecast surplus rainfall for August-September with the precipitation expected to be 107 per cent of the long period average of 43.5 cm for these two months. In fact, the global models have predicted that September could be the wettest this monsoon.
“The sentiment is of higher production for corn on increase in acreages,” said Tejinder Narang, a grains trade analyst. But the actual production would depend on various factors, including the weather in the months ahead.
Net imports
From a net exporter, India had turned a net importer of corn this year on decline in domestic output and rising consumption.
So far, the imports into the country this year were estimated at around two lakh tonnes. “Though India is headed for a bumper crop, its re-entry into the world corn market would largely depend on the parity in prices,” said Rajiv Yadav, Vice-President, COFCO Agri.
Less risk crop
“However, the domestic consumers — the poultry feed and starch makers — will have a good time in the year ahead. Also the forecast of an extended monsoon this year could possibly raise some issues on the quality front,” Yadav added.
“It is a relatively easy crop and the risk factors are less compared to others,” a trader said. Corn prices, which moved up from the levels of Rs. 1,300 a quintal in April to around Rs. 1,700 in July, have eased a bit in recent days. Trade expects the prices to stay volatile ahead of the harvest that’s expected to commence in September.
Acreage under hybrids
“If everything goes well, there could be a 7-8 per cent increase in kharif yields on increasing area under hybrids and better rains,” said Sain Dass, former director of Directorate of Maize Research under ICAR. Kharif yields of maize have been less than two tonnes per hectare.
The sowing is still on in some States including Karnataka, Tamil Nadu, Maharashtra, Haryana and Bihar and the overall acreage could be higher than 8.1 million hectares, Dass added. He also admitted that rains during the September may pose a challenge.
Source : Business Line