What is Organic Cotton?

Cotton is essentially  a crop—an agricultural commodity. Planted typically in April or May, the first few weeks of growth are crucial for cotton plants. In order to thrive, the cotton crop requires plenty of sunshine, moderate rainfall (24 to 48 inches) and heavy, fertile soil. These conditions are naturally found in the tropics and subtropical regions of the world, both in the Northern and Southern hemispheres.

Cotton is the single most important textile fiber in the world, accounting for about 35 percent of all fibers produced. The United States remains a major producer of cotton for the international market, ranking third behind China and India. The United States also remains the leading cotton exporter in the world. Six countries--Brazil, China, India, Pakistan, Turkey and the United States--are the top consumers of the world’s cotton. (ERS)

Primary Uses

Virginia Status

What Farmers Need to Know:

Proper soil fertility management ensures sufficient nutrients for maximum cotton production. Obtaining and maintaining appropriate soil nutrient concentrations is imperative, as fertilizer inputs are the largest component of production budgets for Virginia cotton farmers. At the same time, excessive nutrient application wastes money, wastes natural resources, and can negatively impact yields and environmental quality.

Industries that will Benefit the Most.

- Medical Supplies
- Industrial Thread Rope, Cordage and Twine
- Machinery Belt Wiping and Polishing ClothsTextiles
- Cosmetics
- Agriculture Paper

Near & Longterm Outlook:

The latest Census of Agriculture reports that 318 farms planted cotton with average cotton acreage on those farms of approximately 290 acres. The annual farm-gate value is estimated at roughly $30 million. Four Virginia cotton industry members have been elected to leadership positions in the National Cotton Council (NCC) for 2016, including Randy Everett, a Stony Creek producer, who was elected vice chairman of NCC's Virginia unit. James Ferguson, an Emporia producer, was re-elected chairman of NCC’s Virginia unit. Mark Hodges III, an Emporia ginner, was re-elected unit secretary; and James W. Jones Jr., a Windsor producer, was re-elected as Virginia chairman of the NCC’s American Cotton Producers. The NCC’s mission is ensuring the ability of all industry segments to compete effectively and profitably in the raw cotton, oilseed and U.S.-manufactured product markets at home and abroad.
Cotton is grown in the southern and southeastern parts of Virginia.

Cotton is produced in 17 states across the country, including Virginia. Most comes from Texas. In Virginia, producers specialize in a type called upland cotton, according to the Virginia Farm Service Agency. Hudson adds that most of that is grown in southeastern Virginia around the Southampton County area.

National Status

Primary Regions?

In 2011, the last year for which the USDA released figures, U.S. cotton production of upland cotton was 14.8 million bales (a bale equals 480 pounds). Worldwide, cotton production totaled nearly 123 million acres. Hudson is raising an unspecified amount of acreage in a large expanse of fields visible from U.S. 58 and Route 903 in the Bracey area.

Almost all of the cotton fiber growth and production occurs in southern and western states, dominated by Texas, California, Arizona, Mississippi, Arkansas, and Louisiana. More than 99 percent of the cotton grown in the US is of the Upland variety, with the rest being American Pima.

Crop History?

Historians believe that cotton was introduced into the United States by immigrants. While it was recorded in Florida in 1556 and in Jamestown, Virginia in 1607, it is believed that cotton has been planted and cultured in the United States since 1621.Cotton farming became a major issue of racial conflict in the history of the United States, particularly during the 19th-century. Southern black cotton farmers faced discrimination from the north, and many white Democrats were concerned about how many of them were being employed in the U.S. cotton industry and the dramatic growth of black landowners.As the chief crop, the southern part of United States prospered thanks to its slavery dependent economy. Over the centuries cotton became a staple crop in American agriculture. The cotton farming also subsidized in the country by U.S. government, as a trade policy, specifically to the “corporate agribusiness” almost ruined the economy of people in many underdeveloped countries such as Mali and many other developing countries (in view of low profits in the light of stiff competition from the United States the workers could hardly make both ends meet to survive with cotton sales).

Current Economics?

Cotton production is a $25 billion-per-year industry in the United States, employing over 200,000 people in total, as against growth of forty billion pounds a year from 77 million acres of land covering more than eighty countries. The final estimate of U.S. cotton production in 2012 was 17.31 million bales,

Exports:

The United States is the world's top exporter of cotton, shipping some 12 million bales per annum. Four out of the top five importers of U.S.-produced cotton are in North America; the principal destination is Honduras, with about 33% of the total, although this has been in decline slightly over recent years. The next most important importer is Mexico, with about 18%, a figure which has been broadly stable, and then the Dominican Republic, although exports have declined as a proportion of the total in recent years. China imported about 11% of U.S. cotton last year, which was a sharp increase over previous seasons, allowing it to overtake El Salvador, which has consistently imported about 8-9% of the total. Cotton exports to China grew from a value of $46 million in 2000 to more than $2 billion in 2010. In Japan, especially Texas cotton is very highly regarded as its strong fibers lend themselves perfectly to low tension weaving.

Worldwide Status

Primary Regions

Cotton is the single most important textile fiber in the world, accounting for about 35 percent of all fibers produced. The United States remains a major producer of cotton for the international market, ranking third behind China and India. The United States also remains the leading cotton exporter in the world. Six countries--Brazil, China, India, Pakistan, Turkey and the United States--are the top consumers of the world’s cotton. (ERS)

China has the top rank in the figures of highest cotton producing countries. Their land is perfect for agriculture and they have the workforce to cultivate. Environmental conditions are the major part of production level. China has high sunshine and frost free land to grow the crops. Labor is no problem is china as it is the most populated nation. United States, Australia and United Kingdom has the best cultivating and harvesting machines for high production rate.

Crop History

Cotton has been one of the most important commodities traded in world history since nearly the beginning of settled societies in the ancient world.

The first written records concerning Indian cotton are fragments from Buddhist and early Hindu texts which refer to cotton weaving by women in various locations in northern India, albeit centuries later.  Narratives describe small-scale cotton farms which produced cloth as a cash crop for peasant cultivators around 500 CE.  Early but effective versions of cotton gins were in use before 1000 CE to clean the cotton and remove its seeds, a technology which seems to have spread from India to China by the thirteenth century of the common era.  Thus, while the details will probably never be entirely clear, it is evident that Indian cotton production was widespread and successful since the earliest known Indian society and was practiced with considerable technical sophistication.

The cotton industry is fundamental to the development of global capitalism and broadly shaped the world we live in today.

Current Economics

Global cotton production is forecast at 104.4 million bales in 2016-2017, a modest increase following a 16-percent reduction in production in 2015-2016—the result of inclement weather and pest damage.

World cotton consumption is expected to grow modestly during the 2016-2017 marketing year, reaching 110.8 million bales, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture Economic Research Service.

The United States is the world's top exporter of cotton, shipping some 12 million bales per annum. Four out of the top five importers of U.S.-produced cotton are in North America; the principal destination is Honduras, with about 33% of the total, although this has been in decline slightly over recent years. The next most important importer is Mexico, with about 18%, a figure which has been broadly stable, and then the Dominican Republic, although exports have declined as a proportion of the total in recent years. China imported about 11% of U.S. cotton last year, which was a sharp increase over previous seasons, allowing it to overtake El Salvador, which has consistently imported about 8-9% of the total. Cotton exports to China grew from a value of $46 million in 2000 to more than $2 billion in 2010. In Japan, especially Texas cotton is very highly regarded as its strong fibers lend themselves perfectly to low tension weaving.

Cotton production is a $25 billion-per-year industry in the United States, employing over 200,000 people in total, as against growth of forty billion pounds a year from 77 million acres of land covering more than eighty countries. The final estimate of U.S. cotton production in 2012 was 17.31 million bales, with the corresponding figures for China and India being 35 million and 26.5 million bales

Important Fiber Terms
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