Sowing of kharif crops continues to cause concern as the area under pulses and oilseeds trailed as of August 19. However, the coverage of cotton has increased by 6 per cent compared to the year-ago period.

According to data, 123 lakh hectares (lh) have been brought under cotton this year. Compared to last week, the coverage has remained stagnant as States data were not available due to Krishna Janmashtami holiday. For the same reason, the Centre did not release the weekly sowing data.

Non-Bt acreage up

A feature of the cotton coverage is the area under non-Bt cotton increasing by 7 per cent to 8.4 lh. The area under Bt cotton has increased by 6 per cent to 114.67 lh, according to agriculture ministry data.

Due to higher prices and timely arrival of monsoon, the area under kharif crops was expected to increase by at least 5 per cent. While farmers in Maharashtra and Gujarat have raised the planting area under cotton, there has been a marginal fall in Telangana. The area in Telangana has dropped to 19.26 lh from 20.33 lh but it is attributed to rains affecting sowing or forcing growers to resow.

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The intensity of pests and diseases was above Economic Threshold Level (ETL) in some States on the cotton crop until August 12, officials said. There were reports of the crop being affected by White Fly, Thrips and Jassids in Haryana. In Punjab, incidents of White Fly have been reported, while in Maharashtra Pink bollworm is causing concern, officials said, adding the government is in the process of collecting information about the extent of crop damage due to pests.

The area under cotton in Maharashtra was at 41.9 lh until August 19, up from 38.9 lh a year ago, whereas in Haryana, it was sown on 6.5 lh, a tad below 6.9 lh a year ago and in Punjab the area is 2.5 lh, same as last year.

Pulses farmer shifting?

Among pulses, the area under arhar (pigeon pea), moong (green gram), and urad (black matpe) has declined this year. Experts attribute the trend due to a shift toward cotton and soyabean. Initially, moong acreage was higher, mainly in Rajasthan, but with excessive rain in the growing region, some farmers are reported to have shifted to maize and soyabean.

The total area under pulses was at 125.6 lh, up 5% over last year, out of which moong made up 32.4 lh, urad 35.2 lh, and arhar 43.4 lh. Karnataka, Maharashtra, and Telangana have reported lower acreage, while there is a marginal increase in Uttar Pradesh in the area under arhar.

Oilseed acreage

The oilseeds area was at 184.42 lh, down from 185.85 lh a year ago. Soyabean acreage was at 119.5 lh (up from 119.04 lh) and groundnut at 44.32 lh (down from 47.95 lh), the National Food Security Mission (NFSM) portal data showed. While Maharashtra and Rajasthan have reported a higher area under soyabean, farmers in Madhya Pradesh have planted the oilseed crop in lower area, so far this year.