Dry spell could wilt cotton output hopes

Vishwanath Kulkarni Bangalore | Updated on March 12, 2018 Published on June 10, 2014

Overall area under the natural fibre could rise as growers shift from guar, soyabean

The prevailing heat wave across North India has affected the end-season cotton planting, while Maharashtra and Gujarat have expressed concerns over the delay in the progress of monsoon.

However, the cotton industry is hopeful that acreages this would exceed last year’s levels attracting farmers’ attention from competing crops such as guar and soyabean on higher prices.

“Overall cotton acreages should increase by three-five per cent this year, though the yields will depend on the rainfall,” said Dhiren N Sheth, President of Cotton Association of India.

Cotton acreage was 11.5 million hectares last year and the output had touched a record 38.825 million bales of 170 kg each, according to CAI. For the year ahead, the Government has set a production target of 35 million bales.

Increase in acreage

In North India, where the cotton planting has ended, acreages are higher by about a tenth over last year. Industry sources said plantings are up by about one lakh hectares each in Haryana and Rajasthan with the total in North India hovering above last year’s 3.4 million hectares. A clearer picture on acreage in the North will emerge by July.

Delayed monsoon

The delay in wheat harvest had pushed back the cotton planting that normally starts early May. Moreover, the lack of water in canals, mainly in Rajasthan, also delayed the plantings.

“It has been a mixed season this year. The heat wave has hit sowing and about five-seven per cent of the area in North India is yet to be covered. It may not be covered now as the season has ended,” said Sovan Chakraborty, Business Head, Shriram Farm Solutions, a unit of DCM Shriram Ltd, the largest vendor of cotton seeds in the North.

The dry spell and delay in progress of monsoon over Andhra Pradesh, Maharashtra and Gujarat is triggering concerns among seed industry and growers.

Rainfall pattern

In a normal year, monsoon reaches Vidarbha region of Maharashtra, the main cotton growing belt in Central India by June 10, but this year there is no such indication, said KR Kranthi, Director of Nagpur-based Central Institute of Cotton Research.

Rainfall during June 1-8 this year is 44 per cent deficient and the monsoon, which arrived late by six days, is yet to make any progress beyond southern Karnataka. If the rains are normal, cotton acreage could gain in Maharashtra and Madhya Pradesh, Kranthi said.

“The delay in monsoon progress over key cotton growing areas is a concern,” said M Ramasami, Managing Director of Rasi Seeds. He expects that a shrunk sowing window could boost demand for short duration varieties.

Published on June 10, 2014

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