L.N. Revathy

Coimbatore, Aug. 4

WHILE cotton growers prefer to play safe by raising the medium and coarser varieties, Super Spinning Mills Ltd has been bold enough to encourage growers (covered under contract-farming) to take to the extra-long staple (ELS) cotton.

"About 80 per cent of the 20,000 acres covered in the Karnataka belt is under ELS cotton," Mr G. Xavier, Head (Agriculture Division) told Business Line.

According to him, the apprehension about the low-yield levels, rising production costs and uncertain demand has, over the years, compelled growers to look for coarser and medium staple cotton varieties and hybrids. "Concern apart, growers more often complain about the lack of quality ELS seeds. But breeders and seed producers state otherwise."

The ELS cotton is grown in two seasons in the State. July-August marks the commencement of the winter season, while the summer cotton season starts in January. Surabhi and MCU 5 are the main summer cotton varieties. These varieties are raised in over one-lakh acres in the Theni, Madurai and Salem belts.

"The growers in Tamil Nadu do not prefer winter ELS. In a limited area, Suvin is grown as a winter cotton crop in the Athur area," Mr Xavier said.

The area under Suvin has slipped from 20,000 acres to less than 1,000 acres in the last couple of years, he said and pointed out that Surabhi was quoted at over Rs 2,500 a quintal in the Konganapuram market last week.

(This article was published in the Business Line print edition dated August 5, 2005)
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