Touching You

Cotton Facts:

  • The Cotton Belt spans the southern half of the United States, stretching from Virginia to California.
  • Cotton production covers more than 14 million acres or about 22,000 square miles of the United States.
  • Texas is the leading cotton-producing state, producing about 4.5 million bales of cotton a year.
  • Cotton contributes over $1 billion to the Texas economy, ranking only behind the beef industry in total cash receipts.
  • Texas produces about 25% of the entire U.S. crop and plants over 5 million acres annually.  That’s over 8,000 square miles of cotton fields!
  • In the U.S., cotton is regulated as a food crop.
  • Cotton can be grown continuously without hurting the soil.
  • The cotton industry in the United States provides jobs for more than 440,000 Americans.
  • The first T-shirts were elbow and hip length undershirts issued to sailors in the U.S. navy in 1880.  The shirt resembled a perfect “T” when laid out on a flat surface…which is how it got its name.
  • About 31% of the U.S. cotton supply is exported.
  • Every year our cotton industry exports 6 to 9 million bales of raw cotton.

Cotton Production

Texas- Top Counties Upland Cotton

Rank County Production (Bales) Harvested Acres Yield/Acre (Bales)
1. Hale 483,000 262.1 1.8
2. Gaines 346,200 204.4 1.7
3. Lamb 339,500 193.0 1.8
4. Hockley 279,700 212.0 1.3
5. Floyd 254,400 164.0 1.6
6. Lubbock 247,800 193.5 1.3
7. Crosby 214,700 181.0 1.2
8. Terry 214,200 150.8 1.4
9. Parmer 191,200 75.8 2.5
10. Castro 166,800 74.5 2.2

U.S. -Top States Upland Cotton

Rank State Production (Bales) Harvested Acres Yield/Acre (Bales)
1. Texas 5,800,000 4,100,000 1.4
2. Arkansas 2,525,000 1,160,000 2.2
3. Georgia 2,334,000 1,370,000 1.7
4. Mississippi 2,107,000 1,220,000 1.7
5. Tennessee 1,368,000 695,000 2.0
  U.S. Total: 20,822,000 12,408,000 1.7

Source: USDA National Agricultural Statistics Service

Cotton Gin:

  • Eli Whitney invented the cotton gin in 1793. This cotton gin consisted of cranks, pulleys and hooks and maintained an output of 50 pounds per day.
  • The cotton gin increased cotton production and lowered costs, resulting in cotton becoming the cheapest and most widely used textile fabric in the world.
  • At the cotton gin, the cotton fiber is separated from the cottonseed. The cotton fiber is compressed into bales. A bale weighs about 480 pounds.


There are three primary products derived from cotton production: cotton lint, linters, and cottonseed.

Cotton Lint

  • Cotton lint is the raw fiber from the cotton plant which is pressed into bales at the cotton gin.
  • The bales are purchased by textile mills and processed in stages into yarn and cloth.


  • Linters are short fibers that cling to the seed.
  • They provide cellulose for making items like plastics, paper products and cosmetics.


  • About 2/3 of a harvested cotton crop is composed of the seed, which is crushed to separate its three products—oil, meal and hulls.
  • Cottonseed oil:
    • The oil is the cottonseed’s most valuable by-product.
    • It is used in cooking oil, shortening, salad dressing, and in preparation of snack foods like chips, crackers and cookies.
    • Products such as soaps, cosmetics, pharmaceuticals and textile finishes also contain cottonseed oil.
  • Hulls:
    • Cotton hulls are used for feed, fertilizer, fuel and packing.
  • Meal
    • Meal is the second most valuable by-product of cottonseed.
    • The meal is high in protein and used to feed all classes of livestock and poultry.

Did You Know?

What is produced from a bale?

One Bale of Cotton can make:

  • 215 Jeans or
  • 249 Bed Sheets or
  • 690 Terry Bath Towels or
  • 765 Men’s Dress Shirts or
  • 1,217 Men’s T-Shirts

Learn more about Texas Cotton!