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MUMBAI/NEW DELHI: India is likely to receive below-average rainfall in August due to the El Nino weather pattern, a senior weather department official said on Monday, after an above-average monsoon in July helped farmers accelerate crop planting.

Rainfall in August is estimated at 92% of the long-period average, Mrutyunjay Mohapatra, director-general of the India Meteorological Department (IMD), told a virtual press conference.

India’s weather defines average, or normal, rainfall as ranging between 96% and 104% of a 50-year average of 87 cm (35 inches) for the four-month season.

Farmers typically start planting rice, corn, cotton, soybeans, sugarcane and peanuts, among other crops, from June 1, when monsoon rains are expected to begin drenching India. Sowing usually lasts until July and early August.

Heavy rain in India’s capital raises new fears of flooding

Summer rains are crucial as nearly half of India’s farmland lacks irrigation.

Rain in India in June was 10% below average, but in some states, the rainfall deficit was as much as 60% below normal.

July monsoon rains were 13% above average, and between June 1 and July 31, India experienced monsoon rains that were 5% above average.

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