Cotton crop has suffered extensive damage following heavy rainfall in the last fortnight, resulting in almost zero yield or yield with the poorest quality in the produce.
What is more distressing is the efforts of the cotton cultivators in either salvaging the harvested cotton by drying the produce in the sunlight or in saving the standing crop by applying some fertiliser, urea or spraying insecticide or pesticide, pinning hopes on restoring strength and sheen to the standing crop.
Cotton, mostly B-2 variety, has been grown on an area of 20,320 hectares, with Veppanthattai block accounting for a majority of more than 50 per cent of the crop. The average normal yield per acre is 10 quintals but this season not even one quintal could be realised, according to an official estimate.
Farmers incur a huge expenditure of up to Rs. 20,000 an acre and get an equal sum as revenue after marketing it at an average rate of Rs. 4,000 a quintal.
“We have incurred a huge loss just a month ahead of the harvest. Last year, we could sell the produce at Rs. 50 a kg but we do not hope to sell it even for Rs. 10 this year,” says K. Selvam and his wife Dhanalakshmi of Kaarai village who had immediately harvested the crop after a let up in the rain. “We salvage the available cotton so that it can be readily marketed. However, the quality is inferior,” they admit, pleading for adequate compensation from the State government.
Visit any interior village in the cotton cluster of Veppanthattai or Irur block you can see a large number of farmers and agricultural labourers either transporting or applying some fertiliser, chemical, urea or pesticide in their fields.
“Based on our experience, we try to protect the crop at least for the next few weeks so that it could regain its sheen,” says Kunjithapatham, a cotton grower of Kolkkanaththam in Irur block. Navarathinam, another farmer of Therani, said he was applying urea to save the standing crop.
Farmers should desist from applying fertiliser or urea at this crucial stage and, instead apply cobalt chloride solution using one gram in 100 litres for an acre, says R. Kavimani, Professor and Head, Cotton Research Station, Veppanthattai, who has been visiting various rain-affected fields across the district for the past one week. He said that cotton could withstand drought condition and hence the continued stagnation of rain water in the fields had done more harm. “Roots suffocation has resulted in the poor nutrient intake. Further, it has caused in the formation of a toxic substance ethylene which further aggravated the growth and sheen of the cotton,” he said.
He said awareness camps were being organised among the cotton farmers to resort to foliar application in coordination with the Agriculture Department officials.
We have incurred a huge loss just a month ahead of the harvest. Last year, we could sell the produce at Rs. 50 a kg but we do not hope to sell it even for Rs. 10 this year