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Cotton Has Unique Strengths

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Seshadri Ramkumar, Texas Tech University, USA

cottonCotton is pre-sold on its comfort attributes. In addition, it has certain environmental benefits. With planting in serious mode on the High Plains of Texas, stakeholders of the industry gathered in the office of Lubbock-based Plains Cotton Growers.

The meeting kicked-off with discussions about planting accomplished so far and then shifted to discuss about certain benefits of the natural fiber.

On an average about 20-30% of acreage has been planted in the High Plains.  In Lubbock County, 30% of acres have been planted. Wind has been strong recently and has deterred some producers from going on a high gear. As usual in the region, it is the rain, which will determine the amount of production. It is the not number of acres planted, ultimately, weather and the number of bales produced are what matter and will influence the price and hence the demand.

“Rain fixes a lot of things,” stated Shelley Heinrich, a cotton producer, who farms about 3000 acres in South of Lubbock. With higher prices, producers are expected to plant more cotton acres. In High Plains, this year, 60% of acreage will be dryland and 40% will be irrigated. In recent years we had slipped a little and irrigated acreage had dipped to around 35% stated Shawn Wade, Director of Policy Analysis at Plains Cotton Growers.

While discussing the benefits of cotton, it’s not only the comfort on which cotton is pre-sold, there are also environmental benefits. More and more consumers are aware of the problems caused due to the bioaccumulation of micro synthetics in marine lives and ocean floors. Cotton being biodegradable can be a natural alternative to address this issue.

With the help of technology and good environmental stewardship, producers these days, use fewer resources such as water and chemicals in production. Even in the case of irrigation, High Plains’ producers practice supplemental irrigation techniques and are quick to adopt to water-savings management strategies.

Cotton’s natural benefits and improved manufacturing practices are enabling it to penetrate into high performance and active wear markets. The cotton sector needs to focus on imparting desirable functional characteristics to the fiber, without sacrificing its comfort to make it more attractive to these markets.