June 05, 2021 BATHINDA: Despite sowing of cotton stretching beyond the ideal sowing time in Punjab, it is close to reaching the target for 2021-22. The state agriculture department had the target of sowing cotton on 3.25 lakh hectares and till Wednesday, the crop had been sown over 3.01 lakh hectares, said data compiled by the agriculture department. Bathinda and Muktsar districts are close to the target while six other cotton sowing districts are not. Sowing of cotton is ideally done till May15 as the crop sown after that date is considered prone to pest attack. The late start of sowing has been attributed to delayed harvest of wheat crop and unavailability of canal water for many days in the initial stages of sowing. Under crop diversification, cotton is seen as a viable alternative to the water-guzzling paddy. According to state agriculture department data, out of the 1.05 lakh hectares targeted, Bathinda district got sowing done on 1.04 lakh hectares till June 2. In Muktsar, sowing has been done on 39,676 hectares against the target of 40,000 hectares. The district fell short of 324 hectares while Bathinda district fell short of 1,000 hectares. Director, Punjab agriculture department Sukhdev Singh said, “sowing was disturbed in some areas, especially in Fazilka and Mansa districts, due to rain for a few days. The target is expected to be achieved before June 10.” In 2020-21, there was a major mismatch in cotton sowing data in Punjab as initially, the state government claimed that that the crop had been sown on nearly 5 lakh hectares but during girdawari at the end of the season, it was found that the crop had been sown on 2.51 lakh hectares, the state agriculture department said. This season, sowing was conducted on a passive note as by May 10, it had been sown on less than 20% of the targeted area at 63,220 hectares. According to cotton marketing watcher, cotton growers are expected to get good returns in the ongoing cotton season. Going by the low production, starting cotton prices are expected to open close to Rs 6,000 per quintal. In the previous season, they opened close to Rs 5,000 per quintal and gradually reached Rs 6,000 in February, 2021 when the cotton marketing season was in the last leg. MSP in the outgoing season was Rs 5,725 per quintal for 27.5-28.5 MM long staple.