By Rajendra Jadhav

MUMBAI, India, March 15 (Reuters) – Unexpected rains and hailstones could damage India’s main winter crops, including wheat, rapeseed and chickpeas, just before the start of harvest of plants that will have already experienced some heat stress, industry executives and officials said.

India’s meteorological department has warned that major producing states in the central, northern and western regions may see more rain and hail over the next 10 days, which could reduce production and trigger commodity prices. food, which the government and the central bank are trying to contain.

A drop in wheat output could make it more difficult for New Delhi to rebuild stocks, while a drop in rapeseed production could force the world’s biggest buyer of edible oils to increase imports of palm oil, soybeans and sunflower.

“The rains and hailstorms are of concern as harvesting of winter crops has just started. Standing crops would be affected and production could be reduced,” said Harish Galipelli, Director of ILA Commodities India Pvt Ltd.

Farmers typically begin planting wheat, canola and chickpeas in October and November, and harvest them from late February.

Winter-sown crops have already been stressed by above-normal temperatures and premature ripening, said farmer Ramrai Bohara of Rajasthan, the largest canola-producing state. (Report by Rajendra Jadhav edited in Spanish by Javier López de Lérida)

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