The agriculture department issued a set of guidelines to farmers advising them to ensure cotton picking without any contamination to get a good price from the market. Quality of cotton depends a lot on its picking, said Assistant Director Agriculture Abdul Samad. Farmers should adopt measures to keep cotton contamination-free at all stages from picking to storage and transportation. He said farmers should begin picking cotton only when 50 percent of the bolls were open in a field. Similarly, picking should be done after 10am so that there would be no dew or moisture in the cotton flower. Moist cotton must not be plucked from boll as it gets hot inside storage facility, changes colour, affects germination strength of the seed and leaves it unable to deliver oil, he added. Bolls that are not fully opened or half opened should not be picked and picking should start from the bottom of the plant to minimise chances of mixing of contamination like leaf. The cotton flower that fell on the ground must not be mixed in the clean picked cotton to avoid damage to its quality, he noted. The cotton obtained from pest-affected bolls should be kept separately to avoid compromising quality of the overall cotton production of any farmer. Moreover, cotton collected from the last picking should also be kept separately as its fibre strength is comparatively low and its seed can hardly be used for sowing. Heads should remain covered during the picking and both hands should be used during the process. After collection, cotton should be placed at a dry place on a cotton cloth outside the field and should be covered. Moisture should not be above 8.5 percent at the time of picking.