India's cotton production is expected to decline for the second consecutive year to 37.5 million bales in 2015-16 marketing season, due to a likely fall in yields on account of delayed sowing, weather and low price realisation, according to USDA's latest report.
For the 2014-15 marketing season (August-July), the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) has forecast cotton output to be 38 million bales while the government has projected 35.3 million bales. One bale is 170 kg of cotton.
"...Production is forecast marginally lower on reduced yields stemming from delayed sowing, weather, and price realisation vis-a-vis other crops," USDA said in its latest report.
India's cotton production is forecast at 37.5 million on 12 million harvested hectares, it said.
In Gujarat and Maharashtra, sowing has commenced, but is limited to fields with assured irrigation.
Farmers' planting decision to expand cotton acreage, according to the report, has become difficult as prices of competing crops in various states have dropped.
Farm-gate prices of competing crops such as paddy, cluster bean (guar), soybeans, maize, and sorghum have fallen on an average by 30 per cent since the start of the August 2014 marketing season, it said.
Cotton, a predominantly monsoon-season or kharif crop, is planted from the end of April through September and harvested in the fall and winter.
The Met Department has already forecast that the Southwest Monsoon is expected to be 12 per cent deficient this year.
India accounts for about a third of the global cotton area. The country's two-thirds of cotton are produced in states such as Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh, Gujarat and Odisha where much of the crop is rain-fed.
The northern zone, which consists of Punjab, Haryana and Rajasthan, produces cotton under irrigated conditions and accounts for about 15 per cent of production.
In South, Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka and Tamil Nadu chip in with 30 per cent.