USDA ERS - Cotton Sector at a Glance (2023)

USDA ERS - Cotton Sector at a Glance (1)

The United States plays a vital role in the global cotton market, acting as a key producer and exporter of the fiber. In marketing year (MY) 2019—August 2019-July 2020—the United States produced nearly 20 million bales of cotton, representing about $7 billion in total (lint plus seed) value. Furthermore, the United States is the world's leading cotton exporter, providing approximately 35 percent of global cotton exports in recent years. Through its participation in global trade, the United States supports global textile industries and provides opportunities for domestic farmers to market their cotton to the world.

Cotton is a versatile commodity used in many products, particularly clothing. One bale of cotton—approximately 480 pounds of cleaned cotton lint—can make more than 200 pairs of jeans or 1,200 t-shirts. In the United States and around the world, there are two main species of cotton cultivated for commercial use: upland cotton and Pima (extra-long staple) cotton. Upland cotton comprises the vast majority of production. The primary difference between species is fiber length, with other small differences in growing conditions and end uses.

Table 1: Upland v. Pima Cotton Characteristics
Cotton speciesFiber lengthPercentage of U.S. productionEnd usesGrowing conditions
Upland (Gossypium hirsutum)1" to 1 1/4"97%Apparel, home use (curtains, upholstery, etc.), hospital/medical useWarm/hot conditions, dry falls, later planting
Pima (Gossypium barbadense)1 3/8" or longer3%Expensive/high end apparel, sewing threadHot, dry conditions, earlier planting

Domestic Production

U.S. cotton is grown predominantly in 17 southern-tiered “Cotton Belt” States—from Virginia to California. Cotton is planted from March to June and harvested from August to December. Among the U.S. States, Texas is the largest producer, contributing approximately 40 percent of U.S. cotton production in recent years. Other top cotton producers include Georgia, Mississippi, and Arkansas. Within Texas, most production is concentrated in the High Plains region, as cotton is particularly suited for that area’s climate.

Figure 1: Cotton (harvested acres), 2017

USDA ERS - Cotton Sector at a Glance (2)

Embed this chart

Download higher resolution chart (3300 pixels by 2550, 300 dpi)

Figure 2: Leading U.S. cotton producing States, 2018-2020

USDA ERS - Cotton Sector at a Glance (3)

(Video) Agribusiness, GMOs, and their Role in Development: Crash Course Geography #41

U.S. cotton is mechanically harvested using specialized equipment. Seed cotton—fluffy white fiber that includes seeds—is harvested from the field and pressed into round bales or large modules for transport to a gin. During the ginning process, cotton fibers are separated from the seeds, cleaned of foreign material, and pressed into bales of lint. In the United States, a small sample of cotton lint is collected and sent to a USDA classing office where it is graded, thereby providing the quality characteristics on which the cotton is marketed. After ginning, the cotton bales are ready for shipment—usually to a storage warehouse where bales are consolidated before being sent to a mill for further processing into textile and apparel products.


Within the United States, the USDA regulates cotton quality and grading. Industry organizations, such as the National Cotton Council, advocate for cotton growers and other cotton industry participants. Government legislation is also a key element for cotton growers in the United States. With the passage of the 2018 Bipartisan Budget Act, for example, seed cotton (unginned cotton) became a covered commodity under the Price Loss Coverage (PLC) and Agriculture Risk Coverage (ARC) programs. These programs continued with the passage of the 2018 Farm Act, the Agricultural Improvement Act of 2018 (see Farm Policy for detailed information). Traditional crop insurance and risk-management programs also help protect farmers from catastrophic and weather-related losses.

Global Supply and Use

Globally, cotton production and consumption can vary considerably, but the long-term upward trend remains. Major factors driving the growth of cotton supply and demand include biotechnology innovations, increasing farm mechanization, population growth, and economic growth. However, the growth is punctuated by periods of sharp decline as seen in recent years. In MY 2015, world production decreased in response to declining Chinese import demand and large global stocks, which lowered cotton prices and incentives to plant cotton. Additionally, in MY 2019, world cotton mill use experienced its largest annual decline as a result of the global economic slowdown.

Figure 3: Global cotton production and mill use, 2004-20

USDA ERS - Cotton Sector at a Glance (4)

Embed this chart

Download higher resolution chart (3187 pixels by 2550, 150 dpi)

(Video) 2021 Spring Data Users Meeting: ERS Research

The top two cotton producers, India and China, contribute approximately 45-50 percent of the world’s production, while the top four producers comprise 70-75 percent of global cotton production. Currently, India is the world’s leading producer of cotton, surpassing China recently. Although yields in India are well below the global average, cotton area in India dwarfs that of any other country, accounting for approximately 40 percent of the world total. The United States is the third-largest producer of cotton globally. Since MY 2015, seed genetic improvements and favorable cotton prices compared with other field crops provided a modest rebound in the U.S. crop. Brazil—the fourth-largest cotton producer—experienced a record crop in MY 2019—as cotton there is now produced mainly as a second crop.

Figure 4: Leading global cotton producers, 2010-20

USDA ERS - Cotton Sector at a Glance (5)

Embed this chart

Download higher resolution chart (3187 pixels by 2550, 150 dpi)

As with production, China and India are the top two users of raw cotton. However, China is by far the world’s leader in processing raw cotton fiber into textiles and apparel. While shifts in Government policy and industry have kept consumption below its peak in the mid-2000s, China still accounts for one-third of global cotton mill use.

India’s cotton consumption is second globally, accounting for about 20 percent of the total, while Pakistan contributes another 9 percent; however, both countries’ share remains relatively stable. In contrast, upward trends in cotton consumption have occurred in Bangladesh and Vietnam, where companies are shifting their manufacturing to countries with relatively cheap labor, thereby increasing their demand for and consumption of raw cotton fiber. Turkey’s cotton mill use has also grown modestly.

Figure 5: Leading cotton mill users, 2010-20

USDA ERS - Cotton Sector at a Glance (6)

Embed this chart

(Video) April Crop Production and WASDE ASB Briefing

Download higher resolution chart (3187 pixels by 2550, 150 dpi)

Global Trade

Cotton is a global commodity, with robust trading in raw and finished products. Much of the world’s cotton crosses international borders before finally arriving at its end-use destination, and factors that affect trade and marketing of cotton have far-reaching impacts.

Since China joined the World Trade Organization (WTO) in 2001, textile manufacturing has been a core component of its economic development. Beginning in MY 2010, the Chinese government built strategic stockpiles of cotton to protect its textile industry. This, among other policies, generated a massive demand for foreign cotton, and China became the world's dominant cotton importer. However, China began to phase out these measures in MY 2014 and sell off its stockpile, bringing import levels in line with other countries. In addition to China, the top importers include Bangladesh and Vietnam, where cotton textile and apparel manufacturing has expanded.

Figure 6: Leading global cotton importers, 2010-20

USDA ERS - Cotton Sector at a Glance (7)

Embed this chart

Download larger size chart (2040 pixels by 1632, 96 dpi)

The United States is the leader in global exports, supplying more than 35 percent of the world’s raw cotton export market. In MY 2016, U.S. export levels increased significantly. This change was generated by a high-quality crop, coupled with production decreases from other producers, primarily India and Brazil. U.S. export levels have remained strong since then. However, Brazil—with its recent production increases—has become the second largest exporter to the world, surpassing India in MY 2018. In fact, the United States and Brazil together now account for more cotton exports than the rest of the world combined.

Figure 7: Leading global cotton exporters, 2010-20

USDA ERS - Cotton Sector at a Glance (8)

(Video) 2020 USDA Spring Data Users' Meeting

Embed this chart

Download higher resolution chart (3188 pixels by 2550, 150 dpi)

The United States is also a key player in the global trade of cotton goods. While the United States exports much of its raw cotton fiber, it imports the bulk of its textile and apparel products, with China, India, and Bangladesh accounting for over 50 percent of U.S. cotton product imports. Although of a much smaller quantity, U.S. cotton product exports—mainly yarn and fabric—also play a role in global trade. Over 70 percent of these exports go to Honduras, the Dominican Republic, and Mexico for further processing before many of the finished products return to the United States.

World Stocks to Use and Prices

A measure often used to demonstrate the balance between cotton supply and demand is stocks-to-use, the ratio of cotton stocks available to how much is used. Higher stocks-to-use ratios generally indicate lower prices, and vice versa. Cotton prices themselves are often measured by the Cotlook A Index, which is an average of the five cheapest cotton price quotations available for trade around the world.

In MY 2010, cotton prices rose significantly as a result of a combination of factors that drove stocks to unexpectedly low levels and also limited global production increases that year. Both supply and demand responded to the higher prices and the stocks-to-use increased considerably for several years. Beginning with MY 2015, global stocks-to-use decreased as China slowly sold off or used its excessive stocks, and prices increased. However, stocks-to-use jumped to a record in MY 2019, as a large global cotton crop was produced at a time when the global economic slowdown reduced world cotton demand to a 16-year low.

Figure 8: Global cotton stocks-to-use and price, 2010-20

USDA ERS - Cotton Sector at a Glance (9)

Embed this chart

Download higher resolution chart (3187 pixels by 2550, 150 dpi)

The price of cotton is also determined by other factors. Cotton prices are impacted by the price of other field crops that compete with cotton for area; producers will plant cotton instead of other field crops if it provides a relatively higher return, and vice versa. Common crop alternatives include corn, soybeans, and wheat, though regional crops—such as peanuts—can also be substituted for cotton. The cost of fiber substitutes (particularly polyester and other synthetics) also impacts the price of cotton. If cotton prices rise too high, manufacturers can substitute synthetics for cotton. Given the number and variety of alternatives, cotton producers face stiff price competition and continually operate in a competitive environment.

(Video) International Markets of Opportunity III Exporting your products & services to the AFRICAN MARKET


What sector is cotton in? ›

Cotton plays an important role in the Indian economy as the country's textile industry is predominantly cotton based. The textile industry represents an important component of the country's industrial production and is one of the largest source of employment.

Which state grows the most cotton? ›

Among the U.S. States, Texas is the largest producer, contributing approximately 40 percent of U.S. cotton production in recent years. Other top cotton producers include Georgia, Mississippi, and Arkansas.

Which is the largest cotton producing country in the world? ›

The top cotton producing countries include China, India and the United States respectively. Within the United States, the Southern states traditionally harvest the largest quantities of cotton.

What are the two sectors of the cotton textile industry? ›

The cotton textile industry in India can be broadly divided into two sectors, the organised sector and the unorganised sector. The decentralised sector includes cloth produced in handlooms (including Khadi) and powerlooms.

Why is cotton not grown in Florida? ›

Florida Native Cotton is part of the Hibiscus family, as are all cottons. It is an endangered plant in Florida. In the early 1940s a new bug was found on the cotton that resembled the boll weevil. Fearing another boll weevil-like attack, they decided to systematically destroy the plants.

Which state is No 1 in cotton? ›

Gujarat is the largest producer of cotton in India. Cotton is one of the most important fibre crops and cash crops in India.

Who is the largest consumer of cotton in the world? ›

Being home to the largest population in the world makes China the largest producer, consumer, and importer of cotton. There are an estimated 300 million people involved in producing cotton in China.

Which city is famous for cotton industry? ›

The prosperity of the industry was the mainstay of the city's economy. It is called the "Manchester of India". Thus, the Ahmedabad is officially famous for cotton textile works.

Which city is known for cotton? ›

Mumbai is known as the 'Cottonpolis of India' because Mumbai has become the most important centre of cotton textile in the country due to the following reasons: proximity to raw materials. favourable climatic conditions. good transport and port facilities.

Who makes the highest quality cotton? ›


Giza cotton is one of the highly rated cotton fibers of the Egyptian cottons. This cotton is cultivated in fields along the River Nile and in the fertile region of its delta. It has the uniformity index of 88.5 due to which it is capable of producing a supreme quality and a soft fabric when woven.

Where does cotton rank in the US? ›

The United States exports more cotton than any other country, though it ranks third in total production, behind China and India.

Where is the softest cotton in the world grown? ›

What Is Egyptian Cotton? It's produced in Egypt along with the fertile and rich soil situated along the coastal line of River Nile. It's among the finest and most luxurious materials provided in the world. It's made from long strands of staple cotton that's soft and super-strong.

What are the three sub sectors of cotton textile industries? ›

The cotton textile industry has three sub¬sectors i.e. handloom, power loom, and mill sectors. The handloom sector is labour intensive and provides employment to semi skilled workers. It requires a small capital investment.

What is the best cotton on the market? ›

Pima Cotton

Pima is considered the finest cotton on earth. As an extra-long staple (ESL) cotton, its long fibers make it extra soft and extra strong. The result? Luxuriously smooth fabric that is resistant to fraying, tearing, pilling, wrinkling, and fading.

What is a bunch of cotton called? ›

Bale: A bale is a bundle of raw cotton.

What type of cotton is 100% cotton? ›

100 cotton means the fabric is not blended and is made of a stronger, softer, and more comfortable natural product consisting of fibers picked from the plant. On one side it's strong enough to last many hot washes, and on the other hand, it's biodegradable.

How much cotton can 1 acre produce? ›

On average, we can harvest from 2 to 4 tons (4400 to 8800 lbs.) of cotton per hectare, or 0,8 to 1,6 tons (1760 to 3527 lbs.) per acre.

How many times a year can you harvest cotton? ›

Planting Cotton

Cotton plants are biennial plants, meaning that they can grow and produce for two growing seasons. However, this cotton is grown as an annual crop, meaning that the growers put all of their effort into the growing process to produce an optimal crop each year.

Why is there no cotton in winter? ›

Cotton — Clothing made of cotton is not good for cold weather. It absorbs moisture and traps it next to your skin. Save the cotton for summer, when you might want a little extra moisture to keep you cool.

Is there a cotton shortage in the US? ›

The U.S. Department of Agriculture has cut its forecast for 2022 cotton production by 28 percent, the lowest level in a decade. The worst-hit area is Texas, which accounts for more than half of the country's output. Forecasts say that could be cut by half from last year, totaling more than $2 billion in cotton.

Why is cotton grown in the southern US but not in the northern US? ›

In order to grow properly, cotton requires a warm climate, so the American south is the ideal place for it to be harvested. In the 1730s, England began using American cotton as part of its clothing industry.

What is the cotton capital of the world? ›

Greenwood, Mississippi: Cotton Capital of the World.

Which state is the largest producer of cotton 2022? ›

Among the states, Maharashtra is leading in cotton acreage with 39.41 lakh ha followed by Gujarat (22.51 lakh ha), Telangana (18.78 lakh ha), Rajasthan (7.08 lakh ha) and Haryana (6.88 lakh ha).

Which country has the monopoly of cotton? ›

The United States has had almost a monopoly in cotton. Climate, soil, labor and means of transport, and the national energy, have enabled us to produce a cotton of such quality, and to export it in such quantity, as practically to command the markets of the world.

What company sells the most cotton? ›

Allenberg ranks number 1 on our list of the top 10 largest cotton manufacturing companies in the world in 2022. Allenberg Cotton Manufacturing Company (ACMC) is a vertically integrated textile and apparel company focused on the North American market.

Which state has largest number of cotton mills? ›

Maharashtra has the largest number of cotton textile mills in India because of the availability of raw material and traditionally skilled labour.

Which two states are most famous for their cotton textile industry? ›

In India, the cotton textile industry is mainly developed in the cotton producing areas of the states of Gujarat, Maharashtra, and Tamilnadu. Mumbai and Ahmedabad are the two most important centres.

Which city is the second largest producer of cotton? ›

UPSC Mains. Notes: Mumbai-Maharashtra is the most important cotton manufacturing centre in India. Gujarat is the second largest producer of cotton textile in India and Ahmedabad is the largest centre. The other important cotton textile centres of Gujarat are Vadodara, Surat and Porbandar, etc.

Which country is the birthplace of cotton? ›

3000 B.C. - Cotton first cultivated as a fabric in the Indus River Valley (present-day Pakistan).

Which state is famous for cotton industry? ›

The states of Gujarat, Maharashtra, Andhra Pradesh, Haryana, Punjab, Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan, Karnataka and Tamil Nadu are the major cotton producing areas in India.

Which states are leading producer of cotton Why? ›

Gujarat is the largest cotton producing state in India with a production of 125 Lakh Bales. The state accounts for more than 31% of the total cotton production in the country and cotton is grown in more than 30 Lakh Hectares of land.

Is Supima cotton better than Egyptian cotton? ›

Supima cotton stands for “superior cotton,” which is a step above Egyptian cotton in quality and feel. The fibers have superior durability and can stand up to washings easily. You will find that because supima cotton is so soft, your night's sleep will be comfortable and easy.

Is Turkish cotton better than American cotton? ›

Compared to “regular” cotton, including pima, Turkish cotton fabric feels softer and more plush due to its longer fibers.

Why is Egyptian cotton better? ›

Egyptian cotton is more breathable, moisture-wicking and absorbent than normal cotton, which helps to regulate your body temperature, making it ideal for balmy summer nights, and all year round comfortable sleeping. This works by drawing away moisture from your skin when you are hot, allowing you to cool down.

Who is the largest cotton producer in the US? ›

Among the U.S. States, Texas is the largest producer, contributing approximately 40 percent of U.S. cotton production in recent years. Other top cotton producers include Georgia, Mississippi, and Arkansas.

What 5 states are the cotton belt? ›

Once confined to the pre-Civil War South, the Cotton Belt was pushed west after the war. Today it extends primarily through North and South Carolina, Georgia, Alabama, Mississippi, western Tennessee, eastern Arkansas, Louisiana, eastern Texas, and southern Oklahoma.

Who picks cotton now in America? ›

Since hand labor is no longer used in the U.S. to harvest cotton, the crop is harvested by machines, either a picker or a stripper. Cotton picking machines have spindles that pick (twist) the seed cotton from the burrs that are attached to plants' stems.

Where is the most expensive cotton grown? ›

Particular mention should be reserved for Sea Island Cotton, the cotton with the longest fiber in the world (52 mm or more), grown in small amounts (70-80 tons per year) in Barbados and some other Caribbean islands. The Sea Island Cotton is considered the most valuable (and expensive) cotton in the world.

Is Egyptian cotton and pima cotton the same thing? ›

But while Egyptian and pima cotton share similar premium characteristics — and even have the same scientific name (gossypium barbadense) — their differences lie in where they come from. Pima cotton is primarily grown in the United States, and Egyptian cotton thrives in the hot, dry climate of the Nile River Valley.

Is pima cotton the same as 100% cotton? ›

Pima cotton is a higher-end type of cotton with a longer fiber than conventional cotton. It has a reputation for producing a smooth fabric that's soft to the touch, wrinkle-resistant, and ultra-durable.

Is cotton a tertiary sector? ›

The correct option is A Primary sector.

Is cotton an industry or agricultural? ›

Cotton is an arable crop used mainly for fibre. The cottonseed, which remains after cotton is ginned, is used to produce oil for human consumption and oilseed cake for animal feed.

Is textile industry or sector? ›

The textile industry continues to be the second-largest employment generating sector in India. It offers direct employment to over 35 million in the country. According to the Ministry of Textiles, the share of textiles in total exports during April–July 2010 was 11.04%.

What sector is textiles in? ›

The textile mills subsector is part of the manufacturing sector.

Is cotton a primary sector? ›

Primary sector: There are many activities that are undertaken by directly using natural resources. For example, the cultivation of cotton.

What is the secondary sector of cotton? ›

For example cultivation of cotton comes under primary sector and its manufacturing into cloth is a secondary sector and its transport and sales are the activities that come under tertiary sector.

What are the three sectors of cotton textile industry? ›

Solution. The cotton textile industry has three sub¬sectors i.e. handloom, power loom, and mill sectors. The handloom sector is labour intensive and provides employment to semi skilled workers. It requires a small capital investment.

What are the 4 main sectors of the agriculture industry? ›

Recent figures suggest that about a quarter of employed Filipinos work in the agricultural sector which is made up of four sub-sectors: farming, fisheries, livestock, and forestry.

What are the problems associated with cotton industry? ›

- There is an irregular power supply that extends the work. - There is a tough competition for the cotton industry from the fiber industry. - There is competition from foreign cloth industries. - There is a shortage of supply of raw materials which is imported from foreign countries, particularly of long-staple cotton.

Why cotton industry is largest industry? ›

Cotton textiles are a major industry in India because cotton is a natural fiber that grows well in the country's warm climate, and India has a long history of producing and exporting cotton textiles.

Which state is famous for its cotton textile industry? ›

The states of Gujarat, Maharashtra, Andhra Pradesh, Haryana, Punjab, Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan, Karnataka and Tamil Nadu are the major cotton producing areas in India.

Which city is famous for textile industry? ›

It is called the "Manchester of India". Thus, the Ahmedabad is officially famous for cotton textile works. The Arvind Mills is a company that processes denim for jeans worldwide, it is located near the Sabarmati river; as such the water required for the textile industry is easily available.

Which country has the biggest textile industry? ›

China is the largest textile producing and exporting country in the world. With its rapid growth over the last two decades, the Chinese textile industry has become one of the main pillars of the country's economy. Clothes, clothing accessories, textile yarns and textile articles are amongst Chinas's top export goods.

What are the 6 categories of textiles? ›

Textiles are classified according to their component fibers into silk, wool, linen, cotton, such synthetic fibers as rayon, nylon, and polyesters, and some inorganic fibers, such as cloth of gold, glass fiber, and asbestos cloth.

What percentage of the textile industry is cotton? ›

How Is Cotton Fabric Used? Approximately 75 percent of the world's clothing products contain at least some amount of cotton.

What are 3 examples of types of textiles? ›

Bitesized information on ten of the most used textile fibres in the fashion industry including cotton, polyester, viscose (or rayon), silk and wool.


1. Data Products Legislative Series: Session I
(National Agricultural Statistics Service)
2. BioSTL Agrifood Trilateral Symposium: Introducing the Agrifood Industry Across the Three Regions
(Bio STL)
3. US Farm Labor and Trade 2021
4. Panel 1 – Sustainability and productivity – the future of agriculture
5. John Padalino, Administrator of the USDA's Rural Utilities Service
6. Farmweek - Entire Show - April 4, 2014
Top Articles
Latest Posts
Article information

Author: The Hon. Margery Christiansen

Last Updated: 01/04/2023

Views: 5895

Rating: 5 / 5 (50 voted)

Reviews: 89% of readers found this page helpful

Author information

Name: The Hon. Margery Christiansen

Birthday: 2000-07-07

Address: 5050 Breitenberg Knoll, New Robert, MI 45409

Phone: +2556892639372

Job: Investor Mining Engineer

Hobby: Sketching, Cosplaying, Glassblowing, Genealogy, Crocheting, Archery, Skateboarding

Introduction: My name is The Hon. Margery Christiansen, I am a bright, adorable, precious, inexpensive, gorgeous, comfortable, happy person who loves writing and wants to share my knowledge and understanding with you.