All About Cotton – The Material for T Shirts and More

Cotton plays a major role in the history of the United States of America. On and off it has been an American cash crop, and continues to be so today with annual revenues of over $120 billion. This makes it the fifth highest money making crop in the nation. Cotton in the U.S. is primarily grown in an area that is known as the Cotton Belt. The Cotton Belt is an area that consists of 17 states. These states include Mississippi, Arkansas, the Louisiana Delta, Southern Georgia, California's San Joaquin Valley, and the High Plains and Rolling Plains of Texas. In addition to the U.S., cotton is also grown in countries such as Australia, Brazil, China, India, Pakistan, Turkey, and Greece. It is a fiber that is important to people all over the world who use it one form or another on a daily basis.

The exact history and origin of cotton is unknown, however, a discovery made by scientists in Mexico estimates that a discovered piece of cotton cloth may have had origins from around 5000 B.C. Historians and scientists also know that cotton was grown and used for clothing in Pakistan. In addition, the Egyptians were using cotton fabrics as far back as 3000 B.C. By 800 A.D., courtesy of trade with Arab nations, cotton had made its way to Europe and in 1492 it was discovered in the Bahamas by Columbus. The U.S. saw cotton being planted in Florida by 1556 and by 1616 it could be found growing in Virginia all along the river. With time cotton became a large and successful industry in the U.S. It often went hand in hand with the practice of slavery in Southern cotton plantations with its success being largely fueled by slave labor. In the 1700s cotton growers found that there was a more efficient way to process cotton than the use of human hands alone, and turned to the cotton gin. The cotton gin, which was invented by a man named Eli Whitney, was used to remove the cotton seed from the lint fiber ten times faster than human hands could accomplish.

There are numerous species of cotton plants in existence; however there are some that are more commonly grown than others. In the U.S. the most common type is Gossypim hisutum, which is popularly known as Upland Cotton. Another common type of cotton following Upland Cotton is Gossypium barbadense, or American Pima Cotton. Cotton is used in a variety of ways and can be found almost everywhere. People most often think of cotton fabrics in terms of its use in cotton clothing such as the cotton t shirt or jeans. In addition to the cotton t shirt it is also commonly thought of in terms of sheets for bedding. While these are popular ways in which the plant is used, cotton clothing and bedding are not the only use. In addition, it is used for cloths and towels, in batting for mattresses and furniture. It is also used in automobile cushions and in paper products, including money. Certain parts of the cotton plant can also be used as ingredients for making explosives, plastics as well as insulation for cars. Even the seed of the plant is used. The oil of the seed is used in cooking oil and salad dressing. The hull of the plant and its meal are used as feed for poultry and livestock. Cottonseed meal is rich in nitrogen, which means it is also useful as fertilizer for a wide variety of plants. Cotton is recyclable and naturally bio-degradable, meaning that it can be used as part of compost.

Cotton History

The Cotton Plant

Growing and Harvesting Cotton

Properties of Cotton

Types of Cotton

Uses of Cotton

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