Recent heavy rains and wide-scale pest attacks are likely to lead to a loss of 10-15% yield in soybean crop in Madhya Pradesh, the top producer, according to a survey released by the Indian Institute for Soybean Research.
"There have been fields with 100% loss, but on an average, yield loss of 10% to 15% is expected," said Nita Khandekar, director of the institute. Crop damage of up to 15% is likely in the entire state but a maximum loss is seen in western parts of the country.
In Madhya Pradesh, farmers have sown soybean across 5.8 mln ha so far in 2020-21 (Jul-Jun), up 6.7% from a year ago, farm ministry data showed. The state accounts for over half of the total production in the country. After most of the sowing was completed in June, there was a long dry spell till Aug 20 and higher than normal temperature, the report said.
Higher temperatures and humidity provides a favourable environment for insects, pest attack and some crop diseases. Humidity leads to infestations of stem fly and girdle beetle, which causes disruptions in the water and nutrient system and plants begin to show yellowing symptoms. Heavy infestation of green semi-looper during the flowering time was also reported. This could be due to the higher plant population of soybean in the fields, making the environment favourable for insects and diseases, the report said.
After the long dry spell, there were heavy rains between Aug 21 and Aug 22, which made the environment very congenial for spreading diseases like stem and pod blight in the state. "Owing to the heavy rains, there was a situation of water logging particularly in low-lying areas, that also causes yellowing of soybean crop," she said.
On Aug 26, the Soybean Processors Association of India estimated that Madhya Pradesh would lose 12% output of soybean in 2020-21 due to large-scale pest infestation. Indore, Dewas, Ujjain, Dhar, Sehore, Harda, Shajapur, Mandsaur and Neemuch, are among the most affected areas, SOPA said.
All district-level officials with the state farm department are visiting the affected farms to assess the damage, an official had said earlier. Some fields have escaped this devastation primarily because of planting of early maturing varieties before Jun 15.
This crop is towards maturity now. Judicious use of recommended insecticides and fungicide also protected their crops from any significant damage, Khandekar said. Over 100,000 ha of damage was also reported in Vidarbha area of Maharashtra due to heavy rains, said VS Bhatia, former director with the institute. The output is pegged at 11.2 mln tn in 2019-20 against 12.2 mln tn previous year, farm ministry data showed. Soybean is a crucial kharif oilseed and accounts for around 30% of India's total oilseed basket.