The journey of organic cotton starts with securing untreated, natural (non-GMO) seeds, preparing the land and sowing the seeds. USA organic cotton farmers use regenerative practices that focus on soil health and conservation. It takes 55-70 days from planting until the first flower appears, and 50-60 days from bloom until open boll. The growth cycle of the cotton plant lasts for approximately 5-6 months. Techniques and methods used by farmers include crop rotation, cover crops, conservation tillage, compost and manure. A large majority of organic cotton is rainfed, which reduces pressure on local water sources. Organic farming prohibits the use of synthetic chemicals and fertilizers. Therefore, toxic insecticides, herbicides, and defoliants are not used. Organic cotton farmers in the U.S. utilize mechanical cultivation and hand weeding to control weeds and wait for a hard freeze to defoliate the cotton plants to allow the open cotton bolls to be mechanically harvested.
In the 2017-18 there were 20,923,000 total bales of cotton produced and approximately 23,000 were organically grown or .11%. The Texas Organic Cotton Marketing Cooperative, based in the West Texas High Plains, grew 85% percent of all the organic cotton in the U.S.
U.S cotton is fully traceable to the farm where it was produced, so its origin and quality is fully verifiable. The United States is the only country in the world that tests 100% of all its bales. Not every fourth or fifth. Not even every other. Every single bale. Every bale has its own Permanent Bale Identification (PBI) tag. As each bale goes through the ginning and classing process, this tag goes along with it. so a buyer always knows where, when and how the bale was harvested, ginned and classed.
98% of all US cotton farms are family operated. Most cotton fields have been in their families for generations, so it’s in their best interest to protect them for future generations. Our cotton is grown by the farmers of West Texas who belong to a cooperative of approximately 40 producer members. They plant 18-20,000 acres of cotton each year. In recent years, total annual production on these family farms has ranged from 11,000 to 17,000 bales.
Watch an interview with our organic farmers.