Indian farmers had sown cotton across 12.26 mln ha as of 29 Sep, up 19.3% from a year ago, latest data from the agriculture ministry showed. Acreage was higher than the normal of 11.50 mln ha for the period, based on the average of last five years. The rise in cotton acreage can be attributed to a shift in area from soybean due to higher returns from cotton. Cotton sowing typically starts in April in Punjab and Haryana due to better irrigation facilities in the two states. However, farmers in other key producing states like Maharashtra and Gujarat begin sowing the cash crop only after monsoon rains in June.