Drought-tolerant cotton crop best for high yield

Published: June 9, 2017
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Cotton crop PHOTO: EXPRESS

Cotton crop PHOTO: EXPRESS

FAISALABAD: The recently developed new cotton variety ‘FH-326’ would prove instrumental in increasing cotton productivity and consists of unique features which will provide benefits to the cotton growers.

It would grow in less water and will play a vital role in boosting cotton industry.

While providing details of the newly developed cotton variety, Ayub Agricultural Research Institute (AARI), Faisalabad Director General Dr Abid Mahmood told The Express Tribune, “Improvement in seed cotton and lint yield through breeding programmes is not the only objective but drought tolerance is also required under the changing environmental conditions (uneven rainfalls).”

Mahmood pointed out there was a need to develop drought tolerant variety of cotton with desirable fiber traits due to water shortage in central and southern areas of Punjab.

He claimed keeping in view the water shortage issue, a new variety FH-326 had been developed which possesses a number of qualities, including high seed cotton yield, drought tolerant variety – tolerate/withstand the drought stress and etc.

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Dr Abid said, “The newly developed variety also has the quality of boll opening till October which is best suited for central and southern areas of Punjab.”

“Besides, it has also less input requirement especially Nitrogen, deep tap root system and resistant against lodging,” he added.

“Cotton is life line of our economy and we are supporting the cotton growers in evolving new cotton varieties,” he said. “The new cotton variety ‘FH-326’ would go long way for boosting the cotton production in the country and it would also fetch attractive price for the cotton growers,” Dr Abid claimed.

Meanwhile, Agriculture (Extension) Director General Muhammad Zafar Yab Haidar said all possible steps would be taken to achieve cotton targets. He said field staff had been activated to persuade growers by providing them guidance and training for maximum cotton production. “In this connection, farms days will also be arranged, besides paying field visits to far-flung areas,” he said.

He directed the officials to maintain close liaison with cotton growers so that cotton production could be increased at the maximum extent by using the latest technologies. He also directed officers to conduct pest scouting in cotton fields in time so that attacks of cotton insects could be controlled.

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Reasons of low yield

Heavy rainfall, high temperatures and major pest outbreaks have taken a heavy toll on cotton growing districts of Punjab in recent years. The Ministry of Textile Industry has expressed concern over the 28% drop in cotton production caused by climate change-induced phenomena.

Officials said the erratic weather proved lethal for the production of cotton, one of the country’s key cash crops. They said cotton production may continue to slide due to climate change.

As well as erratic weather, farmers blame the widespread use of Bt Cotton seeds for the low production. The genetically modified cotton variety has been used in Pakistan since 2010 and now makes up 88% of the crop area. People are now shifting to other crops and vegetables after being disheartened by the performance of this cash crop.

Published in The Express Tribune, June 9th, 2017.

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