The latest ICAC survey on the cost of cotton production indicates that weed control is becoming increasingly expensive. Weed control costs include manual/mechanical weeding, thinning (also supplement weeding), hoeing and herbicide use.
Expenditures on weed control rose from 9 cents per kilogram of lint production in 2000/01 to 21 cents per kilogram in 2009/10 and to 31 cents per kilogram in 2012/13. (These cost estimates are not adjusted for inflation.)
As a percent of the net cost of cotton production, expenditures associated with weed control rose from 11% in 2000/01 to 20% in 2012/13. (Net costs are total costs excluding land rent and the value of cottonseed.) Weed control costs emerged as the most expensive component of the net cost of cotton production in 2012/13, more expensive even than harvesting and ginning.
Effective weed control is critical to achieving high yields. If weeds are not removed quickly, they consume inputs and crowd out cotton plant growth. If allowed to stand all the way through the season to harvest, weeds also interfere with picking and cause increased trash and staining.
Dr. Rafiq Chaudhry, Head of the Technical Information Section of the ICAC Secretariat noted that the adoption of herbicide tolerant Roundup Ready and Roundup Ready Flex cotton varieties may be contributing to higher expenditures on weed control.