India's monsoon rains cover entire country ahead of time

FILE PHOTO: Rising water level of river Yamuna after monsoon rains in New Delhi

MUMBAI (Reuters) - India's annual monsoon rains covered the entire country on Tuesday, six days ahead of the usual time of arrival, the state-run weather department said, although rain totals are still 7% below average so far this season.

In a typical year, rains usually lash the southwestern coastal state of Kerala around June 1 and move northwards to cover the entire country by July 8.

India's summer rains, crucial for the third-largest Asian economy, spread nationwide by the end of the first week of July, allowing farmers to plant crops such as rice, cotton, soybeans and sugarcane.

The country is likely to receive above-average rainfall in July after receiving an 11% below-average showers in June, the India Meteorological Department said on Monday, keeping alive the possibility of higher farm output and economic growth.

(Reporting by Rajendra Jadhav; Editing by Sherry Jacob-Phillips)