Cotton growers around the world spent an average of 11 cents on planting seed to produce a kilogram of lint in 2012/13, representing 7% of the net cost of production. (Net costs are total costs excluding land rent and the value of cottonseed.) In the 1990s, the cost of planting seed averaged 4 cents per kilogram of lint. Planting seed rose to 9 cents per kilogram during the 2000s and has now reached 11 cents.
The ICAC undertakes a survey of the cost of production of cotton every three years. The latest report contains data for 2012/13 and will be released at the 72nd Plenary Meeting of the ICAC to be held in Colombia from September 29 to October 4, 2013.
The two most important criteria for the evaluation of planting seed performance and value were traditionally purity and germination. During the 1990s and 2000s, seed treatments, including delinting and fungicide/chemical treatments, were added and increased the value of planting seed. More recently, the addition of insect resistance and herbicide tolerance traits introduced through biotechnology further boosted the value of planting seed and consequently the cost paid by farmers.
Additional features in the pipeline, such as nitrogen use efficiency and increased drought tolerance, will be delivered through seed improvements and will further increase the cost of planting seed. According to Rafiq Chaudhry, Head Technical Information Section of the ICAC, improvements in planting seed are becoming the most important platform for the utilization of advanced technology in cotton.