You probably will not be surprised to learn that cotton is the most-used natural fiber in the entire world. This is largely because of the importance cotton has in the textile industry. In 2016 alone, the global production of cotton has been around 103.17 million bales, with India, China and the United States accounting for more than half of that total worldwide production volume. The total global supply of cotton, including all of the cotton currently being stored, stands at somewhere around 238.57 million bales.
The United States has long been known for its thriving cotton industry, and that continues to be the case today. America is the world’s leading exporter of cotton, sending some 10.5 million bales around the world this year. Most of the cotton that the United States harvested actually was sent out to other nations. Other leading exporters this year were India, Brazil and Australia, while leading importers including Bangladesh, China and Vietnam, all of which have large-scale cotton clothing industries.
Here in the United States, approximately 8.6 million acres of land planted with cotton was harvested last year. The total production value of this cotton was nearly $3.86 billion.
It’s the southern states that produce by far the most cotton in the nation. Texas was the leading cotton producing state in the nation last year at 5.8 million bales, followed closely by Georgia, Mississippi and North Carolina, in that order.
For most of the first decade of the 21st century, cotton prices remained fairly stable, averaging 60 to 70 U.S. cents per pound on the international market. Prices achieved their highest point ever in 2011 at approximately 156 cents per pound, but prices have since rapidly decreased back to slightly over their previous levels. Of course, a major reason for the spike was the economic recession suffered by the United States and many other countries around the world at the turn of this decade.
Currently, the amount of cotton production in the United States is lagging behind the averages for most of the past decade and a half. The early- to mid-2000s saw cotton production levels regularly exceed 20 million barrels annually. In 2015, however, there were only about 13 million bales produced.
Still, despite the lower-than-average figures for recent times, the industry is very stable compared to other periods in American history. In the early 1920s, for example, cotton and tobacco prices collapsed due to overproduction and an ensuing boll weevil infestation that wiped out massive plantings of the crop. Since mechanical pickers became more affordable in the 1950s, however, and agricultural practices have increased, these types of cotton crises have been practically eliminated on a national level.
We always find it interesting to look at the state of the cotton industry here in the United States, because it is so deeply woven into the fabric (no pun intended) of American culture. For more information about the equipment we have to offer cotton farmers, including cotton picker spindles, contact the experts at Certi-Pik, USA today.