A guide on how to start cotton farming in Nigeria

Without been told cotton is actually a fibre crop and is highly valuable to the textile industries and for livestock feeds. This crop is highly grown in dry areas like; Sokoto, Bauchi, Katsina, Plateau, Borno, Kano, and Taraba States. Cotton is also grown in countries like United State. United State is actually the largest producers of cotton in the world. Some other countries in the world that grow cotton are China, India, Japan, Pakistan, etc.

The major uses of cotton

     1. Cotton is used in production of textile materials: The bulk of cotton that is produced in Nigeria is used for clothing and household goods. Without been told the textile industry in Nigeria extremely depends on the supply of cotton for the production of textile materials like Carpets, Pads, Bags, Belts, Hose and twine.

    2. Cotton is used as a source of feed: Actually a percentage of crush cotton lint really contains oil, also the meal really has a high protein content used for livestock for livestock feeds. Although it contains a toxic substance called gossypol. This actually tends to reduce the amount of cottonseed meal that can be safely be added to livestock rations.

Steps on how to start cotton farming in Nigeria

The soil requirement for planting: This crop grows well in areas with abundant sunlight, cotton does not actually tolerate shading. The optimum conditions for growth are really found in areas where cloudiness and sunny days during vegetation are up to about 60-70%. This crop is a short day plant. Cotton actually requires moderate fertile soil for growth. The soils for planting range from sands to heavy clays with ranges in acidity from a pH of about 5.2 to pH greater than eight. One of the best cotton lands are mixtures of clay and sandy-loam that actually contain a moderate amount of organic matter and also a moderate amount of available N, P, and K.

The planting of the cotton seeds: The cotton seeds for sowing must have high germination capacity (not less than 85%). The cotton seeds are normally prepared first at gin mills where the fibre need to be first separated from the seeds and the fuzz removed. The planting of cotton in Nigeria is be done in mid-June on 90cm ridges on 92cm between ridges with intra row spacing of about 45cm. 4 to 6 seeds can be planted per hole and later thinned to 2 plants per stand. Although there are some cotton seeds that are planted after mid-July, but the best yields are attainable with mid-June planting.
Furthermore, the manual broadcasting of cotton seeds followed by beds preparing using harrows or other implements is one of the most primitive and least effective techniques. Actually drilling machines are really the best for sowing because it allows the desired number of cotton seeds to be planted. Actually with hand drilling, furrows are first prepared and the cotton seeds are sown into those prepared furrows or holes. The holes are prepared on the ridges and the cotton seeds are sown into these earlier prepared holes. The various types of sowing are cluster sowing and wide row sowing, although cluster sowing is more wide-spread.

The nutrient requirements: This crop is a fibre crop that really has a high need for phosphorous P and Boron B. Actually fertilizers that contains these nutrients can be applied to the field where the cotton is planted either simple or compound fertilizer form. The fertilizers need to be applied into the shallow grooves about 8cm away from the plant and it should be cover with soil immediately after application. The fertilizer needs to be applied in 2 doses, half three weeks before thinning and left over eight weeks after sowing.

Cotton varieties: There are different varieties of cotton grown in different regions depending on the soil type, climatic conditions, sunlight, soil pH and also the nutrients found in these agro-ecological zones or vegetation belts. In a country like Nigeria cotton belts are divided into the northern, southern and eastern zones. The Samaru 71 cotton variety is recommended for planting in the northern zones and the southern zones why the Samaru 77 cotton variety is recommended for the Eastern zones.  

The harvesting of cotton: The harvesting of cotton is actually done from the time the bolls open. The manual harvesting of cotton is carried out by hand picking. Another method of harvesting cotton is the mechanical method. With this method of harvesting, the mechanical pickers are equipped with a rotating steel spindles that is attached to revolving drums or moving bars.

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