Laura Bolton, Head of Procurement discusses current predictions for the Pakistan cotton market, challenges ahead and the many factors that influence healthy cotton production.
Global trade for Pakistan cotton is set to rise over the next two years as a series of factors puts production in high demand…
New ginning factories in Uzbekistan, one of the largest raw cotton exporters, are predicted to reduce the amount of raw cotton available for export as more cotton is processed locally.
China and India are also forecasted to import more raw cotton into their domestic markets. Turkey currently imports vast amounts of cotton from the US, but recent tariff rises on iron from Turkey to US may result in them looking to import from elsewhere – annual imports of cotton are valued around $519m, and the export of the iron is valued at $525m.
Cotton production in the main Punjab region has significantly decreased since 2014, with sowing delays from water shortages and an increase in land being used instead for sugar cane.
But this season, the region has issued positive forecasts. The Punjab Agriculture Department advised cotton farmers to sow their new season seeds by the end of May to maximise production and minimise risk of disease and pests.
So what makes great cotton?
Cotton yield and fibre quality can be affected by a number of factors, not least timing, land preparation and seed selection. The sowing season typically starts in April in the southern regions, followed by the northern regions up to the end of May.
As with most things, careful preparation is key. Starting immediately after the last crop, precise levelling of the seedbed is crucial for correct irrigation and deep ploughing allows for root penetration. There are two methods of cotton sowing – drilling and ridges. Drilling is mostly done mechanically, and ridges by hand.
Selected seeds should be free from disease, pests or damage. The seeds are then delinted, either with concentrated sulphuric acid or mechanically, to kill any hibernating larvae and ensure even distribution of seed while sowing.
Prior to sowing, the seeds are soaked in water for about 9 to 15 hours to assist with the germination process.
The development stages for cotton can be split into five main phases:
- Planting, germination and emergence
- Seedling establishment
- Leaf growth and development
- Flowering and boll development