Pakistan Cotton Production Forecast to Recover from Last Season
Pakistan cotton production for 2016/17 is forecast to rebound to 7.7 million 480-pound bales, an increase of 10 percent from last year. The increase is driven by an expected recovery in yield, which is estimated at 699 kilograms per hectare, up 28 percent from last year’s pest-ravaged crop. Harvested area, meanwhile, is estimated to drop by 14 percent to 2.4 million hectares. This year’s lower area is largely a reflection of the lower prices at planting for cotton relative to other crops, and to the discouraging returns last season. An increase in sugarcane area largely offset the decrease in cotton.
In recent years farmers have faced increased prices of agricultural chemicals and relatively lower cotton prices. Cotton prices rose significantly during the 2016/17 growing season. According to USDA’s Office of Agricultural Affairs in Islamabad, seed-cotton prices at mid-harvest were $0.37 US per pound compared to $0.25 US per pound a year earlier. Although the increase in cotton prices occurred too late to affect planting decisions, they did encourage cotton farmers to invest more in insecticides and labor, thereby strengthening their insect control methods compared to a year ago. The improved yield prospects resulted in farmers increasing the number of fall pickings. By comparison, the low 2015/16 cotton prices resulted in farmers reducing costs by curbing pesticide applications, leading to exceptionally damaging outbreaks of whitefly and leaf curl virus that led to record low yields. Final production depends on the number of pickings during harvest. In order to determine how many pickings to conduct, farmers must first decide on how much to invest in labor and other harvest-related inputs, and this season’s increase in prices encouraged these investments.
SEASON TO DATE
In Sindh province, cotton is sown during March and April. Precipitation in Sindh during the growing season was slightly below normal, but irrigation water was in ample supply. In Punjab, most planting takes place during May and June. This season, sowing continued up to the end of June. Punjab seasonal precipitation was slightly above normal for the growing season. Cotton is an irrigated kharif (summer) crop. This season’s widespread monsoon rainfall benefitted cotton by recharging irrigation supplies.
HARVEST AND ARRIVALS TO DATE
The harvest of the main crop (planted in June) began in September, with peak harvest in October. Harvest is complete but seed-cotton arrivals will continue to trickle in at a slow pace throughout February. According to a February 2 report from the Pakistan Cotton Ginner’s Association, seed-cotton arrivals to date are up 11 percent over last season. Reported arrivals are up 17 percent in Punjab, which accounts for approximately 80 percent of Pakistan’s total cotton crop. The slowing pace of arrivals confirms the trend of diminishing supplies. Arrivals appear to be on pace to reach a total crop of 7.7 million 480-pound bales of lint.
Source: Pakistan Cotton Ginner’s Association (PCGA)
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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