We think July is going to be normal, albeit it is going to start on a weak note. But before I deep dive into July, I would like to talk a little about June. The Southwest Monsoon covered the entire country a little ahead of its schedule. The month of June is surplus at 16%. (This is the best June performance of all time in any persisting El Nino year). It reached the last post of West Rajasthan on June 26, while the onset over the region usually happens around July 15.
We had gone for normal to above normal at 107% in April for the month of June, but it has surpassed our expectations. If memory serves me right, this is the best rainfall distribution for June at least in the last decade. All four regions are normal (95% of India is between normal to excess). Sowing across the country has been bang on time. And has been completed in 16.56 million hectares which is 3.14 million hectares or almost quarter more than last year. Paddy stands at 2.33 million hectares, below by 6%, (this has been on account of late arrival of the Monsoon in UP and Bihar, I expect it to catch up); pulses- 1.1 million hectares (almost 100% of last year); oil seeds- 2.79 million hectares (almost 400% increase over last year); coarse cereals- 1.93 million hectares (16% increase over last year); cotton- 3.48 million hectares (20 % increase over last year).
Coming back to July. Our initial April forecast was 104% of normal for the month. And we are sticking to that. July has a standard rainfall deviation of ± 16%, and we see the cumulative rainfall for the month remaining in the same limit (84% to 116% of the July LPA of 289mm is normal). In July, I think the winners will be north, east, west and central India. South/Peninsular India could be at a loss. More specifically there is a risk of prolonged dry weather in North interior Karnataka and South interior Karnataka, Tamil Nadu and Marathwada.
A long break is being feared in July. We disagree. We don’t think there is going to be a “typical” break, but we think Monsoon will take a breather between the 2nd and 6th of July. We think there are three spells in July (6th-8th, 14th-17th, 23rd-26th) and a fourth around 30th July & August 2nd which might spill into August. The first spell between 6-8 July will be concentrated in North, Central and East India.
The Madden-Julian Oscillation (MJO) helped rainfall in June. We think it will be back in the second half of July and enhance rain over India.
El Nino is strong and we have factored this into our forecast. But this is a peculiar El Nino event. In that, it set in September-October-November (SON) 2014, then weakened in February and subsequently increased again. The years 1986-87 that were back-to-back drought and El Nino years, had seen a consistent rise in the Nino index, which is not the case this year.
The Indian Ocean Dipole (IOD) is presently neutral and is on track to becoming positive in August. This is favorable for the Monsoon.
I would also like to mention that 2015 could now only be a drought if both July and August end up with an average deficiency for the two months of 20% or more. This is highly unlikely. If July, August and September are down by 8,10, & 20% respectively, even then the season as whole will not be a drought.
I must mention that we are sticking to our April forecast of 102% of the LPA, without changes or qualifications. At Skymet we think 2015 is going to be a normal Monsoon.