Cotton, proudly displayed on the State emblem as one of the Five C’s of Arizona (Copper, Cattle, Cotton, Citrus and Climate), became a cash crop for Arizona farmers in the 1910’s, when Supima cotton was born upon a field on the Gila River Reservation.
It became the plant that makes Ralph Lauren’s cotton goods worthy of his name. Over time, Supima cotton became less important to Arizona economy, as prices fluctuated, but, it is still grown in Arizona and across the American Southwest and is widely recognized as one of the finest cottons the world has ever known.
Cotton still remains an important part of Arizona industry, and it’s no wonder when this plant is so versatile. It is used in fuel, fertilizer, paper, cardboard, margarine and shortening, as well as clothing and other household textiles.
Arizona cotton is primarily grown in the Copper Corridor, most especially in Pinal County and is the main crop grown in the Gila River Valley.
Over the past hundred years, the cotton industry has seen remarkable advances in technology, mostly due to the Arizona Cotton Ginners Association, which has led the advance of progress both in Arizona and nationwide.
One advance is the Phytogen brand cotton seeds,the most widely planted cotton seeds in the U.S, known for their quality, performance, vigor and yield. Phytogen is engineered to better resist pests, disease and even drought conditions, yet, is comparable to the other high quality cottons.
During the recession, the future of Arizona cotton was threatened as farmers were forced to switch tomore lucrative crops or even to sell their fields for development. With less production in other top cotton-producing, countries prices are higher and more farmers are growing cotton, again.
For most areas of Arizona, the cotton fields are in early bloom in June. In Western Arizona, peak bloom is often met by the end of June, the month commonly referred to as “prime time” for Arizona cotton production. The majority of the harvest begins in Oct. and right now in the Copper Corridor the cotton is high.
According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, cotton prices are up for the fifth year in a row. Arizona farmers have planted 188,000 acres of cotton, mostly of the upland variety, to be sold at prices of more than 80 cents per pound.
In 2008, cotton’s lowest production year, the crops still generated $165 million dollars in cash that directly affected Arizona economy, and that does not factor in any advantage to the economy but the actual amount garnered from crop sales.
This is great news for the farmers and great news for those who hope for a better economy all around. Now, go forth and buy sweatpants. Make sure the cotton they are made from was bought from Arizona, and sit back in comfort, on your day off, content in your comfort as well as with the knowledge that you helped your friends and neighbors in the cotton industry.
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