With the revival of monsoon, sowing operations for cotton has gathered momentum but yet to catch up pace across the country compared with the previous year, However, similar acreage is expected this year as well.
According to SM Kolhatkar, director, Cotton Development Board, cotton has been planted on 81.46 lakh hectares across the country compared with 105 lakh hectares a year earlier. By July 25, cotton has been sown on some 24.326 lakh hectares in Maharashtra compared with 37 lakh hectares in the year-ago period. The last three year's average for cotton acreage has been around 117 hectares.
Dr KR Kranthi. director, Central Institute of Cotton Research, Nagpur, however, has expressed some concern over the delay in monsoon and the ability of the farmers to catch up with sowing operations. At present, just 60-70% of the sowing has been completed which normally, by this time, sowing should be complete in both Maharashtra and Gujarat.
Moreover, in Andhra Pradesh, another cotton growing state, sowing has been completed on just 2 lakh hectares compared with 10 lakh hectares same time last year.
Sowing is picking up and deficit in acreage would be made up, the follow up rains in September and October will hold the key for yields and output. If there is no rain in this period, the crop does not pick up well and farmers cannot take up late sowing for Soya crop at this time of the year. So it remains to be seen if this induces farmers to shift to cotton and the impact on the overall acreage has to be seen.
Kranthi still expects cotton acreage to go upto 110 hectares. Maharashtra, the largest state under cotton, will still get to see about 38-40 lakh hectares under the fibre crop while in Gujarat, the acreage may come down to around 23-24 lakh hectares against last year’s 28 lakh hectares, Kranthi said.
In north India, cotton has been planted on about 14 lakh hectares while in Andhra the acreage could stand at around 18-19 lakh hectares.
The delay in monsoon can have an impact on the overall output but as cotton is a sturdy crop it can survive in less rainfall. In Andhra and parts of Karnataka, cotton plantings can go on till early August.
However, in Gujarat, where the rains were scanty till a few days ago, cotton has gained acreage from other crops.
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