A Brief History of Cotton

Have you ever noticed that one of those things everyone remembers from elementary school history class is that Eli Whitney invented the cotton gin? What else do we know about the history of this industry? How has it grown through the years? How has it affected the country as cotton picker parts grew in demand and the industry expanded?

You might be surprised at how much the cotton industry has changed through the years and what an interesting history this industry holds. Read on to discover more.

Cotton in the West

Of course, Eli Whitney wasn’t the first person to contribute to the cotton industry. This fabric was common during the Middle Ages, when it was hand-woven on looms. Ancient Egyptians even grew and spun cotton. It was during the 12th century that cotton weaving was spread to Europe. Around 1350, the spinning wheel was introduced to this part of the world, and by the 15th century several ports had become important, profitable cotton trading hubs.

When Christopher Columbus reached the New World, he discovered natives clad in cotton garments. Yet it wasn’t until the 1790s that the young United States would become a large consumer of cotton goods. At that time, U.S. cotton production was minimal. However, increasing British demand for the products spurred growth in the industry, and innovations in cotton collection and weaving made additional rapid growth possible.

This was when Eli Whitney and his key invention entered the scene. The modern cotton gin increased cotton production and pushed the commodity ahead of tobacco as the main cash crop in the South. By the 1830s, the U.S. had become the world’s top producer of cotton. The plant continued to dominate the South until the 20th century, when the economy began to diversify.

Modern Challenges and Growth

During the 20th century, boll weevils, a type of beetle that feeds on cotton, created tough challenges for the cotton industry. These pests caused billions in damages. They posed such a threat that the Boll Weevil Research Laboratory was established in the 1950s. This organization created lures and traps which successfully fought back against these invaders.

For modern cotton production, biotechnology has become an important factor. Genetically modified cotton can resist chemicals and repel insects. These innovations have helped keep cotton in demand and profitable.

Since the 1980s, demand for cotton has doubled. The U.S. is now the third main producer of the commodity, behind India and China. The cotton industry remains a major employer globally and a popular product around the world.

Discover More

Would you like to learn more about cotton, its history and the modern use of cotton picker parts? Whether you are simply curious or need information to improve your current production, contact the experts at Certi-Pik, USA. We fabricate replacement parts for picking units and offer a broad list of specialty items and sheet metal parts for rebuilding units. Contact us today to receive up to 50 percent savings on quality replacement parts for your John Deere or Case IH Cotton Harvesters.