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August 20, 2019

Cotton production target unlikely to be met due to rains

National

August 20, 2019

MULTAN: The recent spell of unexpected rains, particularly heavy rains received in cotton growing districts on Sunday, has darkened the prospectus of producing 15 million bales of cotton as assigned by Prime Minister Imran Khan for cotton crop 2019-20, the agriculture experts said.

The Punjab Agriculture Department Cotton Advisory Committee has feared increase in population of whitefly and pink bollworm due to recent rains and the committee have recommended growers to follow the Agriculture Department recommendations, the Agriculture Department officials said. Moreover, rains invite massive growth of weeds, they added.

The Federal Ministry of Food National Security and Agriculture statistics had estimated that the country could produce 15 million bales once in 2011-12. Later, the crop size continuously dropped. The Pakistan Cotton Ginners Association statistics had established that the country could produce 10,777 bales in 2018-19.

The CAC has been fully active with the team of experts and releasing recommendations on quarterly basis to growers but unfavorable weather conditions are affecting crop growth and rich chances of severe pest attack, the agriculture experts said.

Talking about recent rains, cotton experts were of the view that cotton plant badly responds in cloudy weather and rainy days and it could affect plant growth. They said that low temperature could lead to establishment issues and unusually cloudy or rainy conditions could change the look of the plant and the plants may produce bigger leaves in response to generally low radiation. Root development could also be affected as root systems did not need moisture at depth.

Low radiation could lead to some shedding of squares as plants could not produce the food (energy) to support them. Plants would compensate for shed squares when sunny conditions return. It is important to ensure the plants have sufficient nutrition and water at this time to compensate otherwise it would suppress the production of new fruiting sites. It is best to assume that if early squares are shed a good yield would only be achieved on a taller plant because new nodes are required to replace lost squares.

Agriculture scientists said that water logging would generate additional physiological responses to those that are simply experiencing sustained warm, cloudy conditions and in wet soil. Water logging is accentuated by rainfall after irrigation, cloudy conditions and inadequate land preparation. Symptoms of waterlogged cotton include a general yellowing of the crop and stunted growth.

The major and immediate effect of water logging is blocking transfer of oxygen between the roots and the soil atmosphere. Plant roots may become so oxygen deficient that they could not respire. Therefore, root growth and absorption of nutrients is decreased leading to less overall plant growth. Water logging can increase sodium uptake, which may then affect the uptake of other nutrients and the growth of the plant.

In addition to the physiological impacts of water logging on the crop, there are also significant impacts on nutrient availability and uptake. The availability of Nitrogen, Iron, Zinc and Manganese are directly affected by the decline in soil oxygen. Recovery from water logging and fruit shedding is easier to manage on younger crops. Crops suffering from a combination of early shedding and reduced Nitrogen uptake could cutout prematurely that is the flower would reach the top of the plant with very few bolls set. Adding Nitrogen in this situation could cause a second flowering and significantly delay maturity.

The water logging could involve in premature senescence of cotton. Under waterlogged conditions, uptake of P and K by the cotton crop may be reduced, predisposing the crop to the premature senescence syndrome.

The young leaves of iron deficient plants become yellow between the veins (choruses). The veins usually remain green unless the deficiency is severe and the whole leaf may eventually turn white. Although the plant may contain high concentrations of iron, most of it is unavailable for chlorophyll production and the leaves lose their green color.

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