Cotton is the most important fibre crop not only of India but of the entire world. It provides the basic raw material (cotton fibre) to cotton textile industry. Its seed (binola) is used for oil extraction. Cotton oil cake also used as animal feed. There are three types of cotton based on staple length. Staple length is the average length of a bundle of fibres which is measured by a method like hand sampling or comb sorting. A short staple fiber is up to 1 1/8" long. A long staple fiber is between 1 1/8" and 1 1/4" long. An extra-long staple fiber is between 1 3/8"and 2"long. Long staple has many advantages compared to short staple fibres such as easy to process, higher evenness of yarns and higher strength for the same level of twist.

Conditions of Growth:
Cotton is a kharif crop which requires 6 to 8 months to mature. Its time of sowing and harvesting differs in different parts of the country depending upon the climatic conditions. In Punjab and Haryana it is sown in April-May and is harvested in December-January that is before the winter frost can damage the crop. In the peninsular part of India, it is sown upto October and harvested between January and May because there is no danger of winter frost in these areas. In Tamil Nadu, it is grown both as a kharif and as a rabi crop. Here the rainfall occurs after September and cotton is sown in October. The irrigated crop is sown in January-February.

Now more than 95% of the cotton area is under Bt varieties. Now there are number of cotton varieties and hybrids available in the market.

Facts & figures:
India is the largest producer of cotton in the world accounting for about 26% of the world cotton production. It has the distinction of having the largest area under cotton cultivation in the world ranging between 10.9 million hectares to 12.8 million hectares and constituting about 38% to 41% of the world area under cotton cultivation. The yield per hectare (i.e.504 kg to 566 kg per hectare) is however still lower against the world average of about 701 Kg to 766 kg per hectare. Since launch of "Technology Mission on Cotton" by Government of India in February 2000 significant achievements have been made in increasing yield and production through development of high yielding varieties, appropriate transfer of technology, better farm management practices, increased area under cultivation of Bt cotton hybrids etc. The yield per hectare which was stagnant at about 300 kg/ha for so many years, jumped to 472 kgs in the year 2005-06 and now it reached to the level of 504 kgs to 566 kgs per hectare.

Major Cotton producing states:
Major Cotton producing states are Maharashtra, Gujarat, Andhra Pradesh, Haryana, Punjab, Rajasthan, Karnataka, Tamil Nadu, Madhya Pradesh. About 80 per cent of the total irrigated area under cotton is in Punjab, Haryana, Gujarat and Rajasthan.

Main exporters of Cotton:
China, India, United States, Pakistan, Vietnam and Main importers are China, Bangladesh, Vietnam, Hong Kong & Indonesia are Main exporters of Cotton.

The expected market price:
Estimated price per quintal for cotton crop for 2016-17 will be around Rs.4200 – 4600 /q. Prices will remain stable at the time of harvest. There are only few chances for prices to increase in the next three months.