The only exception in the state is parts of Konkan, where there is an equal probability of below-normal, normal or above- normal rainfall.
Though there is still some uncertainty over the monsoon onset date for Maharashtra – considering that the rains is likely to reach Kerala later than normal – experts and top agriculture department officials feel it is best that farmers only begin kharif sowing after their areas receive 75-100 mm rainfall.
Dr D S Pai, head, Environment Monitoring and Research Center (EMRC), India Meteorological Department, New Delhi, said, “Though parts of central India, which includes Maharashtra, are likely to receive normal rainfall, regions like Marathwada, Madhya Maharashtra and Vidarbha could get below normal monsoon rain this year. In Konkan, where normals are very high, there may not be much impact.”
He said, “While monsoon onset over Kerala could be around June 4, it is difficult to say whether or not onset over Maharashtra will be delayed. But the onset date over a region and the total rainfall that ensues do not have a one-to-one relationship.”
Dr Pai said, “We are advising farmers to not be in a hurry to start kharif sowing based on monsoon rainfall in initial two-three days. They must ensure that such a spell should continue for a week to 10 days for sowing. But they should also make a decision based on the extended range forecasts and agri advisories issued for Maharashtra.”
Indian weather expert Dr Akshay Deoras, research scientist at the University of Reading, UK, said, “Multiple climate models have been consistently indicating the possibility of below average rainfall in most of Maharashtra in June, as well as June to September. The IMD’s updated monsoon forecast also indicates the same.”
He said, “Coastal parts of Konkan could get normal to above normal rainfall, but interior areas such as Marathwada, Madhya Maharashtra and Vidarbha are likely to witness deficits. These areas are likely to see above normal maximum temperatures in the first fortnight of June. Farmers must refrain from sowing in haste after pre-monsoon showers in early June since that could lead to sowing failures.”
A senior state agricultural department official said, “Till the areas to be sown get 75-100mm rainfall, kharif sowing should not be attempted. This is especially being advised to drought prone areas like Marathwada and Vidarbha. This is because we need proper soil moisture before sowing is attempted.”
Kailas Dakhore, agro-meteorologist at Vasantrao Naik Marathwada Agricultural University who has been assisting the state agriculture department in issuing advisories to farmers, told TOI, “The kharif sowing window for crops such as soybean and cotton is from June 15-July 15. Sowing during the kharif season is recommended when an area receives 75-100mm rain. But if there is a forecast that such a spell could be followed by heavy rain or conversely, a dry spell, even then sowing is not recommended. Farmers will be given suitable advisories on when to begin sowing once we know when monsoon may enter Maharashtra.”