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Commodity Intelligence Report
October 12, 2017

India Cotton: Planted Area Increases Despite Flooding

Despite localized flooding in central India, cotton production 2017/18 marketing year is forecast to increase 11 percent from last year, to 30.0 million 480-pound bales, based on an increase in estimated area and above-average yield. Area is estimated at 12.2 million hectares, up 12 percent from the previous year because of farmers’ optimism over a generally favorable monsoon despite an erratic start. Additionally, a structured pest and disease management schedule from the Ministry of Agriculture, and more favorable returns than for oilseeds and pulses, helped boost cotton area. Yield is forecast at 535 kilogram per hectare, down 7 percent from last year’s bumper crop but up 1 percent from the 5-year average. Yields are expected to be slightly above average in all regions except southern India, where yields are forecast to drop because of pest pressure and inadequate rainfall. Cotton is grown only in the kharif season. Harvest begins in October in northern India and typically continues until January in the rest of the country.


India’s main cotton regions (north, central, and south) have all reported increases in area harvested relative to last year. The northern area has reported an increase of 30 percent whereas the southern area is expected to increase planted area by 2 percent above last year. The major cotton area in central India – including Gujarat, Maharashtra, and Madhya Pradesh – reported harvested area up by nearly 10 percent from 2016.



The Indian Meteorological Department categorizes this season’s monsoon as slightly below normal. It began on time at the beginning of June, but began to act erratically during the planting window in late June to mid-July. Rainfall was below normal in most of the country during this time, including the central cotton area which accounts for about 60 percent of the country’s total cotton production. Due to the dry weather, farmers were able to plant almost 70 percent of the crop in central India. The monsoon rainfall returned to normal in mid-July, but it was not evenly distributed. Rainfall in central India, including Maharashtra and Madhya Pradesh, was at a deficit and didn’t return to normal levels until late August. In September rainfall improved in Maharashtra, which accounts for 34 percent of India’s total cotton. Although farmers were planting under dry conditions, crop impacts were minimal. Maharashtra and Madhya Pradesh received rainfall at the beginning of reproductive stages of squaring to flower buds. Satellite-derived vegetation indices from MODIS imagery (NDVI or normalized difference vegetation index) shows slightly better than normal conditions, indicating that the crop responded positively to improved growing conditions.





Further north in Gujarat, excessive rainfall caused localized flooding in some areas. Radar satellite imagery from ESA’s Sentinel-1 was used to identify the flooded areas. Most of the severe flooding was in northern Gujarat and did not the affect southern Gujarat region where the majority of the state’s cotton is grown. Agricultural specialists from the USDA Office of Agricultural Affairs in Mumbai commented that most of the flooding occurred in the paddy (rice) production areas rather than in the cotton areas. The Ministry of Agriculture’s weekly Kharif Planting Progress report estimated that the cotton crop was already planted when the excessive rains began in late July. Damage to the crop was negligible. The Government of India has estimated that 41,500 hectares or about 2 percent of Gujarat’s cotton crop was damaged from the floods. Since late August Gujarat has been drying out and soil moisture reserves have been fully replenished with improved crop vigor. MODIS imagery (NDVI or normalized difference vegetation index) shows mixed conditions, indicating improved growing conditions for some areas and below average for other areas in Gujarat.

In summary, excessive rains in late July and early August in Gujarat caused localized flooding; however, the amount of cotton area lost is minimal. Cotton area increased across India’s three main regions, an increase of 11 percent from last year. Harvested area is forecast at 12.2 million hectares, up 12 percent from the previous year. With the larger cotton area, production should reach 30.0 million 480-pound bales.






Current USDA area and production estimates for grains and other agricultural commodities are available on IPAD's Agricultural Production page or at PSD Online.

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For more information contact Arnella Trent | | (202) 000-0000
USDA-FAS, Office of Global Analysis

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