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April 26, 2015

Wheat crop, rains delay cotton planting

KARACHI: A prolonged wheat crop coupled with heavy rainfall and harsh winter this season has delayed early cotton sowing in some parts of the agriculture mainland of the Punjab, sources said on Saturday.
They added that the farmers in Punjab failed to sow cotton seeds, which are generally used in March for early production, due to rainfall and harsh winter. This failure would also lead to a nominal cut of 250,000 bales in the cotton production next season.
“Early crop is sown in February and March, but farmers in most parts of the Punjab are still harvesting the winter wheat crop,” said Mukhtar Ahmad Khan, a former chairman of Pakistan Cotton Ginners Association.
Dr Mohmmad Ali Talpur, a senior official at Pakistan Central Cotton Committee said the commodity will now be available in local markets by the last week of July – a delay of two to three weeks – because of the failure in early production.
The early cotton production was also low in Sindh. Farmers in the province started sowing cotton for Kharif season (April-September) in early April. “Some growers, however, sowed cotton seeds for early production in southern parts of Sindh,” he added. However, the Punjab is still to begin Kharif planting. Cotton is grown in hot weather. “When farmers find the climate suitable for the crop they would sow the seeds,” Dr Talpur said. The nationwide sowing will be completed by June 15, he added.
The government has set a target of 15 million bales (of 170 kilogram each) from an area of 3.1 million hectares (approximately 7.6 million acres). It is similar to the last year’s target. However, the production was short of around 1.5 million bales in the last year.
Citing an official of Indus River System Authority, Dr Talpur said there will be sufficient irrigation water during the cotton season.
Last year, floods damaged around 400,000 bales of cotton. It is feared that a flood this year may render the same loss; although the National Disaster Management Authority has not yet issued any flood warning. Dr Talpur said new varieties have enabled farmers to increase yield of cotton. Last year, the cotton yield increased to around 800 kilogram/hectare from 750kg/hectare two years ago, he added.