Arkansas currently ranks #4 in cotton and cottonseed production. It is the #5 exporter of cotton, with exports valued at $463 million. Cotton is grown up and down the Delta region of Arkansas with a concentration in far Northeast Arkansas. The state has dropped from an average production of more than a million acres to around 250,000-300,000 in the past decade. This is part of a larger trend. In 2015, U.S. cotton production declined by some 3.4 million bales from the previous year. Cotton prices hit a six-year low point in 2015 and, according to data from the U.S. Department of Agriculture, farmers planted the fewest acres of cotton since 1983.
In 2014, 335,000 acres of cotton were planted in the state resulting in 820,000 bales of lint being produced. The average yield for Arkansas was 1,193 pounds of lint per acre. National rankings for Arkansas cotton includes 4th in lint yield per acre and 6th for acres planted.
- Approximately 250 million people in 80 different countries grow and gin cotton.
- Nearly 200,000 people in the U.S. alone work in the cotton industry, and exporting it contributes about $30 billion to the U.S. economy each year.
- Not only is cotton harvested for the fiber found in your favorite fabrics, but its seeds are used to make cottonseed oil and animal feed, and the dried remains of the plant can be used to make high-tech packaging.
- By implementing new irrigation techniques and relying on rainfall as a main water source, U.S. cotton farmers are using half the water they did 20 years ago.
- U.S. cotton farmers are growing almost double the cotton on the same amount of land as they did in 1980.
- It takes 31% less energy to make a cotton t-shirt than it took 30 years ago and processing cotton requires less energy than processing other fibers.
- By reducing soil tillage, U.S. cotton farmers use less fuel, which has helped them reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 22% in the last 30 years.
For more facts about U.S. cotton, visit TheFabricofOurLives.com and for more about Arkansas cotton, visit the University of Arkansas Cooperative Extension Service cotton page.