Across America, there are farms growing the cotton that makes its way into your clothing, towels, sheets, and even the dollar bills in your pocket. But that cotton is more than a great fiber. It’s also one of the most important crops produced in the United States, and all those farms and gins add up to a $25 billion-per-year industry.
The United States is the third largest producer of cotton in the world today, with 35% of the world’s cotton fibers produced on farms from the Atlantic all the way to the Pacific. So where is the majority of cotton grown in the United States, and what kinds of cotton do American farmers grow? Let’s find out.
From Sea to Fluffy Sea
Thanks to their unique climates, just six states account for 99% of the country’s upland and pima cotton production: Texas, California, Arizona, Mississippi, Missouri, and Florida. About 97% of U.S. cotton production is upland cotton, while the other 3% is pima cotton.
Everything’s bigger in Texas, so it’s no surprise that the Lone Star State produces more cotton than any other state. Texan growers, harvesters, and ginners account for 25% of the annual production of American cotton, totaling 4.5 million bales. Yeehaw! That’s a lot of cotton.
Those big numbers carry over to American textile mills as well, where hard-working millers spin an average of 3.6 million bales of cotton every year. That's enough cotton to make more than 750 million pairs of denim jeans!
The Two Types of American-Grown Cotton
There are two types of cotton grown in the United States — upland and pima. Both types of cotton are white, soft, and strong, so how can you tell one fluffball from another?
Upland cotton has short staple fibers that are great for basic, everyday use. Thanks to its soft, strong, and low maintenance fibers, upland is primarily used to make denim jeans and flannel clothing. The majority of upland cotton is grown in the southern states.
Pima cotton has extra-long fibers, making it exceptionally soft and strong. Pima cotton is used to make luxurious and long-lasting sheets, towels, and other quality products.
Only about 3% of the cotton grown in the United States is pima cotton, and it’s more expensive and harder to find than upland cotton. The majority of pima cotton is grown in California because of its warm springs, hot summers, and dry falls. But the best pima cotton is grown in the San Joaquin Valley of California.
Whether it’s pima or upland, the most important aspect of cotton is its purity. At HomeGrown Cotton, we ensure our cotton is 100% pure at every stage of the supply chain.
Our cotton is verified with FiberTyping® which is a patented test confirming that our products contain 100% American cotton. And to prevent the mixing of foreign or inferior fibers along the supply chain, we use our SigNature T Technology®, an invisible molecular marker that allows us to test for purity from farm to shelf.
The Future of American Cotton Production
Cotton production is a lucrative part of the U.S. economy and continues to be on the rise. Consumers are eager to get their hands on all-American products more than ever, and American cotton farmers have ramped up production to meet that demand. According to the USDA, total American cotton production in 2018 is estimated at 21.3 million bales, nearly 24% higher than last season’s crop.
In addition to this increase in cotton production, the industry as a whole is taking steps to produce sustainable cotton. The U.S. Cotton Trust Protocol plans to hit the following sustainability goals by 2025.
At HomeGrown cotton, we’re devoted to harvesting 100% verified American upland cotton. Our family farmers work hard to bring you quality cotton products that feel good on your skin with all-American roots that you can feel good about. Learn more about our pure American cotton here.