In spite of good monsoon, Kerala and Karnataka states are showing deficient rainfall. The situation seems to be worse in Kerala, which had 28% deficient rainfall between June to August. The pepper crop was down 25% from a year ago to below 40,000 tonne.
The situation in Karnataka is still bearable and could be made up if it Rains sufficiently in the next few weeks. Rains are just 9% deficient at 516 mm. Growers feel the coffee and spices crop will decline at the time of harvest by December.
Lack of rains has affected the districts of Shimoga, Chikmagalur, Kodagu and Dakshin Kannada. Reservoirs in Dakshin Kannada are not full yet, said Gokul Prasad, assistant director of statistics, Department of Agriculture in Karnataka.
Some key plantation growing districts like Wayanad and Idukki have been hit badly. In Wayanad, the rainfall is lower by 59%. Most of the coffee in Kerala is grown in Wayanad apart from spices. Idukki is another hub for spices in the state.
"We had a long summer without sufficient rains. And now, after the monsoon started, Idukki hasn't got much rain. Cardamom production may come down sharply. Already, harvest has been delayed," said KS Mathew, a major cardamom grower.
It was a bumper crop last year at a record 30,000 tonne. Similarly, in coastal Karnataka, where rain deficit for the region is close to 17%, coffee and pepper planters are worried. Rains in the three main coffee growing districts of Chikkamagalur, Hassan and Coorg are 50% less than the previous year.
The India Meteorological Department said the light spell of rains will occur in some parts of Kerala and Tamil Nadu in the next 2-3 days, followed by heavy rains in the rest of south India by the last week of August.