AGRICULTURE AND IRRIGATION
Fibres occupied an area of 17,917 hectares in 1971-72 in Sholapur district. Cotton and Ambadi (Deccan Hemp) are the important fibres grown in the district. Table No. 17 gives the taluka-wise area and out-turn of fibres from 1961-62 to 1971-72 in Sholapur district.
Cotton: Cotton occupied an area of 15,233 hectares in 1971-72 and is grown throughout the district. It is locally known as kapus. It grows best in black alluvial soil and needs rain-fall ranging between 508 and 762 mm. (20 and 30 inches). Medium and lighter type of soils that are well drained also give satisfactory yields. It is mainly grown as a dry crop all over the district. Generally, it is sown at the end of June and is ready for picking after five to six months. Irrigated cotton is sown in April and is ready for picking from September. The crop is grown in ridges 0.457 metre to 0.914 metre (1½ to 3 feet) apart. The distance between the plants in the row varies from 0.15 metre to 0.23 metre (6 to 9 inches).
The usual method of sowing is to drop the seed in the furrows through the seed drill. Cotton sowing is done in June. American varieties are sown many a time in May. This method of sowing is practised only where irrigation facilities are available. The seed is also sown by hand dibbling method and the individual plants are watered. Two or three waterings are essential for the pre-monsoon crop. Cotton crop requires inter-culturing four or five times. Hand-weeding is also done twice. The crop flowers in about four months after sowing and in another month and a half it is ready for the first picking. Second picking takes place two weeks later and the third two weeks subsequently to the second one.
The agriculture department has recommended the improved varieties or strains of cotton such as Deviraj, 170-Co2, Virnar, etc., for the district. As a rule, cotton is sown as an entire crop. However, jowar and sesamum seed are occasionally mixed with cotton seed at the time of sowing. Tur is sown after every 10th to 25th line of cotton. Rotations usually followed are cotton, jowar, bajri and ground-nut.
Ambadi: Ambadi (Deccan hemp) belongs to the cotton family. It occupied an area of 8,795 acres in 1967-68 in the district. It is a kharif crop and is not exacting in its requirements. It is therefore adaptable to a wide range of climate and soil. It grows best in the alluvial and medium deep soils.
Ambadi is grown as a mixed crop alongwith jowar, bajri or pulses. As the ambadi is grown in subordination to the other crops with which it is sown, there are no special cultural operations for this crop and hence the tillage is the same as that given to the other crops alongwith which it is cultivated. It is sown in June-July and ripens in August-September. The crop is harvested when the stalks are dry. The plants which ripen in October and November are uprooted, dried in
Sun for a few days and tied into separate bundles. The leaves and capsules are easily separated by beating the bundles. The seed is removed from the capsule by beating and is cleaned by winnowing. As its leaves provide excellent manure, the ripe crop is left standing in the field for about a month. When the crop is raised for fibre the plants are pulled out in September or October and are allowed to ripen for a fortnight longer. When the plants are uprooted they are tied in bundles and placed standing in a pool of water where they are allowed to rot. The threshing operation, in which the fibre has to be stripped by hand, is very tedious. The fibre is made into ropes and stalks are used for thatching.
Minor fibres: The minor fibres grown in the district comprise sann-hemp (Bombay hemp) and jute which occupied an area of 191 acres and 341 acres respectively in 1961-62. The total area under fibres in 1961-62 was 39,938 whereas the acreage under sann-hemp and jute taken together accounted for 532 acres or less than 1.3 per cent. The area under jute decreased to 194 acres in 1967-68. The fibre from these crops is largely used by the farmers for their personal domestic requirements. Sann-hemp is mainly used for green manuring. The area under other fibres in 1971-72 was 2,634 hectares.