October, 2011 – Fairhope, Alabama – Southern Snow

Posted on November 18, 2011

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The cotton harvest has begun in Lower Alabama, and the fields here are blanketed in “Southern snow”.

In those planted early last spring, the fluffy, white bolls are fully opened.  Later plantings will extend the harvest season through November.

To help keep leaves from getting tangled up with the good stuff, either a defoliant or a desiccant is applied a few weeks prior to harvest.  This is done by airplane or tractor-drawn sprayers.
After the green plants die down, harvesters gather the crop into either round or square bales, just like hay.  They are then hauled off to a cotton gin, where the fibers are spearated from the seeds and remaining plant material.  The fibers, of course, are made into fabric. The seeds, depending on variety, are pressed for oil or used for animal feed, or treated and stored as seed for the next year’s crop.

Cotton is Alabama’s largest row crop, and is deeply embedded in the state’s history  Gradually bounding back from the great boll weevil epidemic of the early 1900’s, cotton is now grown in 59 of the state’s 67 counties, and accounts for well over $200 million in receipts each year.

Alabama ranks 9th in cotton production in the United States.

And who is the largest producer of cotton worldwide?  China.  And why not – that’s where all our clothing seems to come from these days.

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Posted in: Travel - Alabama