Principal producing area. The United States and Russia shuffle the first position in the cotton production between themselves. These two, countries are closely followed by China and India while other important producers include Brazil, Egypt, Mexico and Pakistan.
United States. The most famous cotton growing area in the United States is the 'cotton belt' which refers to a large area from southern Virginia to western Texas, excluding most of Florida but including major parts of Oklahoma, Arkansas, and Tennessee as well as the adjoining corners of Missouri and Kentucky. The most important of these in area, yield and production is the Mississippi alluvial plain. The outer limit of the cotton belt corresponds to the 200 day growing season and rough topography in the north, low and uncertain rainfall in the west and poorly drained coastal marshland on the south and heavy autumn rainfall in the east.
The desert valleys of the lower Colorado basin in the California and Arizona resemble the famous Egyptian long-staple cotton growing region in respect of dry season and almost continuous sunshine. The dry climate reduces the danger of the boll weevil. Flat and fertile land, long growing season, and irrigation water are the bases for the yields per acre more than twice the national average.
Russia. Cotton growing has made remarkable progress in Russia. Also, a land and water reform was introduced in the cotton growing former Soviet republics Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan, Kirghizia etc. during the very first years of socialist construction. Large state and collective cotton growing farms came into being in central Asia, Kazakhstan and Transcaucasia. Advanced agrotechnical methods were introduced into cotton growing practice and extensive work of irrigation was carried out as a sequel to the radical land reform measures.
The areas's principal cotton growing base is Uzbekistan where most of the cotton production is localized and which represents more than 60% of the ex-Soviet countries cotton acreage. The second, third, fourth and the fifth places go to the credit of the Turkmen, the Azerbaijan, the Tajik, and the Kazak respectively. The Kirghiz and Armenian Union republics are also other important producers.
China. Since 1949 a great deal has been achieved with regard to cotton cultivation. Research on methods of cultivation and new varieties has not only increased output in the established and high-yielding areas of Kiangsu, Hupeh, Honan and Shensi but also has opened new or previously little developed regions. New varieties have enabled Liaoning, which has only 150-160 frost less days, to produce successfully long-staple cotton. Expansion of the growing area and consequently the output of cotton in Sinkiang are to a large extent attributable to development of irrigation.
Egypt. The Nile valley of Egypt is unquestionably the best cotton field in the world. The highly fertile alluvial soil of the Nile delta, long fertilized by the flood waters, with almost continuous sunshine and warmed by a climate in which there is a steady rise in temperature from spring to summer and steady decline from summer to autumn yields a return, nearly double the amount obtained in the United States. Largest acreage than any other crop is sown with cotton, and this represents more than 20% of the cultivated land. Increase in cotton acreage is greatly limited by the absence of irrigation facilities. However, the construction of the Aswan Dam near the Sudanese border has gone a long way in the development of cotton cultivation in Egypt. Egypt accounts for about 17% of the world's cotton exports. With regard to the export of long-staple cotton Egypt is a source of envy with its world share of about 25%. Production of long-staple cotton, developed from the Egyptian v
arieties, has spread with varying degrees of success in the irrigated area of India, Pakistan, Sudan, Peru, Russia, and the southwestern United States.
Brazil. Brazil held the sixth position in the world in 1987-88 in the production of cotton. The former sugar lands of northeastern Brazil accounts for about 25% of the national output. Both long yet strong fibered 'tree cotton' and regular short-staple varieties are grown. The rest of the Brazilian output originates from Sao Paulo where coffee and cotton vary m acreage and importance according to fluctuations in world prices and demand.
Mexico. Mexico represents less than 2% of the world's cotton in 1987-88. Major producing districts lie close to the U.S. border on the Colorado River delta and along the Rio Grande, and also in Oases in the dry interior and along the west coast.
Other Latin American countries. Peruvian cotton is noted for its excellent quality. Peru grows its cotton along the coast under irrigation. Colombia and Argentina are the second and the third largest producers of cotton in South America. Bolivia, Equador, Paraguay and Venezuela are other cotton growing countries.
As many as 70 countries are engaged in the cultivation of cotton all over the world but more than 80% of cotton is grown in only nine countries.
Cotton in India. With regard to cotton acreage, India is second to none in the world, but in total output she ranks a poor fourth; India contributes only 10% of the world production. Cotton holds the first position among the commercial crops in India if its manufacturing aspect is also taken into consideration.
India grows a large variety of cotton over a range of climatic and edaphic conditions from the sub-montane tract in the extreme north of Punjab to the Tinnevelly district of Tamil Nadu in the extreme south of India; Generally speaking it is an arid region crop and thrives best where rainfall is less than 75 cm. The soil is no less important. The sticky black cotton soil of Deccan Trap with greater moisture retaining capacity is ideal for cotton cultivation.
In India cotton is considered long-staple when the fibre is 2.2 cm and above; it is medium staple, when the tearing length of fibre varies between 22 cm and 1.7 cm, if the length of fibre is below 1.7 cm it is classed as short staple variety.
Principal Producing Areas. The major cotton producing areas are the southern United States, Russia, India, Pakistan, Egypt, China and Brazil. The less important producers are Mexico, Sudan, Peru, Uganda, Turkey and Argentina.
World Trade in Raw Cotton . The principal exporters of raw cotton are the U.S.A. Egypt, Brazil, Pakistan, Uganda, Peru and Russia. During 1987-88 cotton exports of the U.S.A., Egypt, U.S.S.R., Brazil and Pakistan were 4.6 million bales, 1.6 million bales, 1.2 million bales, 0.8 million bales and 0.6 million bales of 500 lbs. each. Mexico, Peru, other African countries and Turkey exported 0.9 million bales, 0.3 million bales, 0.9 million bales and 0.4 million bales of 500 lbs each. U.K. is the principal customer of U.S.A.'s cotton. India's imports are confined to long staple cotton of 90 thousand metric tones annually from U.S.A., Kenya, U.A.R., Tanganyika and Sudan.