Sugarcane yield and productivity are a concern in Tamil Nadu and Karnataka due to deficit monsoon. While sugarcane acreages have not dropped, the irrigation water shortage early in the season will take a toll, say industry sources.

Industry representatives are not committing themselves to figures on the drop in output — sugarcane is a year-long crop, quite hardy and late rain can help sustain recovery, they say. But if the dry spell continues, a 10-20 per cent drop in sugar output compared with the 2011-12 season cannot be ruled out, they say.

In Tamil Nadu, official estimates initially pegged a significant increase in sugarcane area during 2012-13 compared with the 6.8 lakh acres for the current season. Between December and March planting progressed fast, and the industry had estimated a 25 per cent growth in sugarcane acreages.
Crop coverage

Subsequently, with the dry spell, power shortage and depleting ground water, the planting momentum had dropped. Crop coverage will be on par or slightly higher than that of 2011-12, say industry sources. But yield and sugar recovery will be hit, the sources say.

Sugar production in 2011-12 is estimated to touch about 23 lakh tonnes (lt).

In Karnataka, the South Indian Sugar Mills Association cautioned that it is a bit early to comment on the outlook. But a sustained delay in irrigation water availability could have an impact.

In the current season, the Association estimates that as of May-end the sugar mills have harvested over 333 lt of sugarcane from about 4.3 lakh hectares. Sugar production was 37.57 lt. The industry estimates for the coming season peg sugarcane harvest area at about 4.2 lt. But the yield could drop by about 5-10 per cent.

In Andhra Pradesh, even if it is not the water shortage, labour shortage has made farmers move to alternative crops, say industry sources.

The Association estimates the 2011-12 sugarcane crushing at 115 lt to produce 11.35 lt of sugar. The acreage was about 1.75 lakh hectares. For the coming season the sugarcane acreage is estimated 1.72 lakh hectares.

source: thehindubusinessline

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