Cotton Boll


Rolling Plains Cotton Growers, Inc. welcomes you to its Internet home. Headquartered at Abilene, Texas, the organization has a long history of working with cotton growers and allied industries to promote and enhance the economic environment in which the region's cotton crop is produced and marketed.

Rolling Plains Cotton  
  The production of cotton in the Texas Rolling Plains contributes significantly to the region's economy.  

Cotton is one of the top ten agricultural commodities produced in Texas. It has been a primary crop produced within the state for over 100 years, and Texas cotton production accounted for approximately one-half of the total production in the United States in 2008, and represented approximately 10 percent of the world's total production. Cotton, understandably, is a major cash crop of Texas, and the state ranks first in U.S. cotton production.

Only a small amount of the Texas cotton crop (10 percent) is actually processed within the state, while the majority is exported to major world buyers in China, Japan, South Korea and Mexico. The production of the fiber provides economic support for farm families and employees, as well as employees of cotton gins, oil mills, compresses, a number of small textile mills, the trucking and rail industries and a number of crop consulting firms.

The total value of Texas cotton produced each year is estimated to exceed $1.6 billion. When extended to other agricultural industries the production of cotton has an estimated total economic impact of $5.2 billion to the state's economy.

According to the Texas AgriLife Extension Service, cotton is produced in six primary growing regions of the state. Each production region has its own climate, soil type, rainfall and harvesting techniques. Roughly 64 percent of the state's cotton production comes from 27 counties in the Texas High Plains, while about 20 percent of the state's cotton production comes from 24 counties in the Rolling Plains.

Skip row planted cotton.
  Skip-row planting of cotton in the Texas Rolling Plains.  

About 10 percent of the cotton produced in the Rolling Plains is irrigated, and farmers generally use the skip-row method of planting, sometimes referred to as "two in and one out" planting. Potential benefits of this planting method can include increased soil moisture and reduced plant stress during dry weather, increased yield on a planted-row acre basis, enhanced fiber quality in some instances, increased air flow and light interception, and reduced input costs.

Rainfall normally averages from 20 to 24 inches that falls on sandy loam to loam soils. Approximately 98 percent of the region's cotton is harvested by mechanical stripping. This method of harvesting is generally incorporated in regions with a shorter growing season and low-input production systems. The method removes the entire cotton boll (carpels and seed cotton) from the stalk, and the excess trash is removed at the gin.

The Texas Rolling Plains is comprised of the central and northern Rolling Plains of the state. The region is bordered by the High Plains to the west, Oklahoma to the north, the northern Blacklands to the east and the Southern Rolling Plains to the south. The largest metropolitan center and urban hub located within the region is Abilene, Texas. The city, that occupies portions of Jones and Taylor Counties in the southern Central Rolling Plains, is home to approximately 116,000 Texans.