USDA expects India’s cotton picking to rise on higher prices

The latest report on India’s cotton and products for the season 2021-22, stated that the country’s cotton picking will be higher as prices of the fibre firm up.

Despite the October rains in parts of the country disrupting arrivals, there are possibilities of an increased picking as farmers would look for higher realisations from the crop.

The Foreign Agricultural Service (FAS), Mumbai of the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), has projected India’s cotton output for the season at 28 million bales , which works out to about 359 lakh bales (each of 170 kg). The production estimates are in line with Cotton Association of India (CAI)’s projection of cotton crop at 360.13 lakh bales — up 7 lakh bales from 353 lakh bales estimated for last year 2020-21.

High prices

“Due to high farm-gate seed cotton prices, the number of pickings will likely be higher as farmers expect better price realisation,” it noted in its report released on December 7.

The current farm-gate prices for Shankar-6 variety in Gujarat have increased by 31 per cent since October, noted the USDA report. The ginned-processed cotton prices now quote at ₹64,900 a candy (each of 356 kg) against ₹57,000 at the beginning of October.

“Cotton picking continues in Central and South India, where farmers are being advised to drain out excess water from the standing crop and monitor for bollworm and sucking pest infestation,” said the report adding that the rains in early October in parts of North and Central India had delayed the harvest.

Output projections

The Union government, in its first advance estimate for the kharif crops released in September this year, had projected cotton output at 362.19 lakh bales for the year — about 10 lakh bales higher than 353.84 lakh bales recorded last year. Later on November 12, the Committee on Cotton Production and Consumption (COCPC) published its marketing year 2021/22 cotton estimates projecting the output flat at 362 lakh bales.

On the arrivals, cotton inflow is seen at about 53.3 lakh bales, as on November 25. Current crop arrivals represent 14.7 per cent of the total estimated production for marketing year 2021/22. Last year, the arrivals during the same period were 22 per cent higher.

The pace of arrivals is expected to pick up in coming weeks as the weather improves, and the harvest accelerates, noted the USDA report.

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