India lost a large proportion of cotton growing area to Pakistan during partition. However, its acreage has increased considerably during the last 50 years.
Cotton is a tropical or sub-tropical crop grown in semi-arid areas of the country (mainly in the Deccan Plateau). Hard-frost is injurious to cotton cultivation and it requires at least 210 frost-free days.
Only light-rainfall (50 to 100 centimetres) is preferred. Cotton can also be cultivated under irrigated conditions. It requires high temperature and bright sunshine for its growth. Cotton requires a clear sky during the flowering stage.
A light well-drained soil capable of retaining moisture is ideally suited for the cultivation of the crop. Black cotton soil is prefered. It is a Kharif crop and requires 6 to 8 months to mature.
There are three cotton-growing areas in India:
- Parts of Punjab, Haryana and northern Rajasthan in the north-west,
- Gujarat and Maharashtra in the west and
- Plateaus of Telengana, Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka and Tamil Nadu in the south. Leading producers of this crop are Gujarat, Maharashtra and Telangana. Madhya Pradesh, Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh, Tamil Nadu, Punjab, Haryana and Uttar Pradesh are also significant cotton producers.