Amid expectations that cotton acreage in the upcoming kharif season is likely to exceed the previous year’s tally, the Bt cottonseed market is witnessing tight supply of branded hybrids, mainly in the central and south zones, as seed production was impacted last year due to excess rains, vendors said.

The unseasonal rains in April and May this year have triggered early planting of cotton in key producing States of Gujarat and Maharashtra, while the planting in Northern states of Punjab, Haryana and Rajasthan is almost in the last stages.

“The movement of branded cotton hybrid seeds is going fast and the market feels there will be some tight supply situation in central and south zones,” said M Ramasami, Chairman, Rasi Seeds. As a result, all the carry forward stocks will be exhausted this year, he added.

In Maharashtra, the government does not allow the sale of Bt cotton seeds before June 1. However, the sales have been taking place over the past few days, Ramasami said.

Minimum stocks

The Bt hybrid cotton market in the country is estimated to be around 4-4.5 crore packets of 450 grams each and the industry normally has a carry-forward stocks of 1-1.5 crore packets.

“This year the carry-forward stocks of Bt hybrids from last year were at a minimum and the seed production last year was impacted by the excess rains,” Ramasami said.

Despite the recent fall in cotton prices triggered by the heavy market arrivals, seed players expect that the fibre crop would sustain the growers’ interest as other competing crops such as maize and soyabean are witnessing a bearish trend.

“There was a good demand for maize last year around this time. Now that it is not there and the expectation that soya may also come down, cotton may be a preferred crop in areas of Maharashtra, bordering Madhya Pradesh,” he said.

Ram Kaundinya, Director General, Federation of Seed Industry of India (FSII), confirmed that there’s a tight supply situation in Bt cottonseeds.

“Cotton hybrids, especially popular products are in tight position because of increase in demand. Last year production suffered due to rains and other factors. Production has not come up to expectations.” he said. Kaundinya estimates cotton area could go up by about 8-10 per cent this year.

Cotton was planted in 130.49 lakh hectares in the kharif 2022 season, higher than the previous year’s 123.72 lakh hectares.

Satyendar Singh, CEO, Seed Business of Crystal Crop Protection Ltd said the sentiments for cotton were okay this year. “Last year there was a positive sentiment because of the price. This year it is not negative,” he said.

No negative sentiment

“Prices of competing crops have crashed significantly. Cotton still has decent returns compared to other crops. There is no negative sentiment, neither from the trade or farmers. Overall, the area may remain the same, if not increase.” he said. In Gujarat, the planting is earlier than last year, while people in parts of Maharashtra have started planting before June. “There is shortage of branded seeds. In particular, specific hybrids may see a shortage,” Singh said adding that it was difficult to assess the shortage.

Mithun Chand, ED, Kaveri Seed Company Ltd, expects cotton acreages to remain flat this year.

“I don’t see much of an increase in the acreages this year as compared to the previous year because the other crops are doing well,” Chand told a post-earnings conference call.