India’s 2015/16 cotton production is estimated at 27.8 million bales (480-pound bales), down slightly from last month and down 5.8 percent from last year, the USDA said in its latest monthly report.
It said area harvested is estimated at 11.8 million hectares, same as last month, and down 7.1 percent from last year. Yield is estimated at 513 kilograms per hectare, down slightly from last month, but still up 1.4 percent from last year.
“With the cotton harvest almost complete, USDA reduced the production estimate in January by 1.8 percent and again in February by 0.7 percent due to continued reports of significantly lower-than-average yields across the major cotton growing provinces, especially in the Northern region where output is estimated at 4.3 million bales (170-kg) compared to 5.4 million bales last year,” the report said.
Yields are reported lower because of widespread whitefly and cotton leaf curl virus infestations, and below average rainfall experienced during July and August in most regions, it said, adding cotton leaf curl virus infestations exceeded the economic threshold for harvest and were poorly managed with inadequate pest control as farmers attempted to minimise production costs due to lower cotton prices. Farmers also limited cotton pickings to reduce labor costs.
USDA crop-condition analysis based on satellite-derived vegetation indices showed significant variations in biomass, green leaf area, and crop vigour across the cotton areas. The analysis also indicated favourable crop conditions early-to-mid season, but relatively poor conditions mid-to-late season.
The reduction in crop vigor is attributed to soil moisture stress in some areas, high temperatures, and whitefly and cotton leaf virus infestation. In Gujarat and Maharashtra precipitation for the month of September and October was below normal. In Andhra Pradesh, however, precipitation for the month of September and October was average to above-average, it said.