A SCIENTIST from the Central Institute for Cotton Research (CICR) here has developed what is reported to be the shortest-duration cotton variety in the world. Requiring only 100-120 days for maturity, the new variety could emerge as the solution to the problems of dryland cotton farmers in regions like Vidarbha and Telangana.
“This is by far the most exciting development I have experienced in my career spanning over 25 years as a cotton scientist… When this variety becomes available to farmers after two years — after we complete field trials — India will have moved from the longest-duration cotton variety to the shortest-duration one,” said CICR Director Keshv Kranthi.
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Explaining the importance of the variety, he said: “One of the main reasons for repeated failure of dryland cotton crop is its long duration. In India, the period generally extends for 170-240 days, while it is about 150 days in countries like Australia and China. So, the duration here extends well beyond the monsoon months. These plants then go without water during the crucial time of flowering and fruiting, suffering weak uptake of nutrients due to lack of water.”
“Why this variety will be the one that we need for our dryland farmers is because it fits into the monsoon period, making water available for the critical time of flowering and fruiting phases,” he said, adding that “long duration crop also attracts more pests.”
Developed by Santosh H B from the crop improvement department of CICR, the variety has been tentatively named “Yugank”, after the son of Dharwad cotton scientist S S Patil, who provided the original material — Patil’s son died in a mishap last year. It will be available in both Bt and non-Bt forms.
“Another advantage of shorter-duration cotton is that the fibre quality is better. The longer the duration, the weaker the fibre,” said Santosh.
The variety has proved to be resistant to sucking and other pests and has a large boll size too. “One plant gives up to 20 bolls, which is way below the average hybrid yield of 60-70 bolls per plant. But if used in high-density plantation system, the number of these plants is at least six times higher. So the new variety will give higher yields within a short time period,” said Santosh.
“I have arrived at this variety through the process of selection of the best traits over the last four years,” he said.