Productivity in Uttar Pradesh typically lags that of other growing regions like subtropical Maharashtra due to poorer soils and a less favorable climate. Another two weeks without rain could lower both tonnage and sugar content, possibly to 8 percent, local farmers reckon.
Farmers worry the impact this year could be worse than five years ago, when India suffered its worst drought in four decades. Subsequent supply shortages from the country pushed New York sugar prices to 30-year highs.
"The rains improved in early July five years ago, but this year the dryness stretched beyond the second week of July," said Yogendra Singh, who mainly grows cane on five hectares of land.
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Cane fields here are irrigated with water from canals built during British colonial rule. But the sturdy crop, planted twice a year, only blooms when it rains regularly.
"Canal water can initiate sowing activities in cane but water from the sky is vital for the nourishment and growth of the crop," said Singh, who retired from the Indian Air Force two decades ago to join his three brothers in farming.
Though production will fall this year, India will not have to trawl the global market for sugar because of surpluses piled up over the past four years.
Other farmers are turning away from cane to other crops that they hope will safeguard their incomes.
"I have switched to cultivation of banana as it promises much higher returns than cane or basmati rice," said Nameet Panwar, 24, who is just starting out farming one hectare of his family's land.
Panwar expects to earn a minimum of 1 million rupees ($16,600) from growing bananas, he says, more than twice that of cane even if the sugar plant is harvested twice a year.
Responding to the late monsoon, local authorities have put contingency plans into action, including providing quick-growing seed varieties of pulses to growers and ensuring adequate supplies of pesticides and insecticides at farmers' doorsteps.
"We too have in place a drought contingency plan to mitigate any situations arising due to rainfall that is 50 percent below normal," said district magistrate N.P. Singh. Marginal farmers would be given work digging wells.