The recent heat wave in India is likely to reduce the country’s current wheat crop by more than 5%. Despite this, India is expected to generate the third-largest wheat crop in history and export record volumes of the commodity.
Concerns have been growing around the world that India’s record heat could cut into planned wheat exports at a time when global food supplies are being squeezed by the Russia-Ukraine conflict. The Indian food ministry cut its wheat harvest forecast by 5.4 percent to 105 million tonnes, but stated exports would be unaffected.
In the 12 months ended in February, India exported a record 7 million tonnes of wheat, nearly four times more than the previous year.
In March and April, some of the greatest daily temperatures in at least 40 years were reported in Punjab, India’s major wheat producing region. Wheat yields would have been far poorer if the crop hadn’t already reached maturity. Furthermore, majority of India’s wheat crop is irrigated, which helps to mitigate the effects of the high heat.
Soil moisture in wheat-growing parts of Punjab has plummeted to levels not seen in at least a decade.
India is the world’s second-largest wheat producer, yet exports fluctuate dramatically from year to year depending on output volumes. Exports of wheat during the current marketing year, which concluded in March, were expected to total 8.5 million tonnes. Despite being a record, such shipments are dwarfed by lower shipments from Ukraine and Russia, which exported 17 million tonnes and 39 million tonnes of wheat, respectively, last year.