Wednesday, September 22, 2010

The Southern King

Can you name this plant?

It is known as Gossypium hirsutum and was first cultivated in North America 8000 years ago in Mexico.

This plant was the cause of the imperial rule in India by the British.

Gossypium hirsutum started the Industrial Revolution and had to do with the start of the Civil War.

Have you figured out what we call this plant?


At the Inman Farm Show, Rick and Joann Minter had a small patch of cotton growing in front of a cotton gin.

This is a cotton gin that was used in Forsyth County, Georgia until it was brought to the Inman Farm Show by John and Rupert Walls. 

It is a Continental 80-saw unit.  As with all cotton gins, its purpose is to separate the fiber of cotton from the seed.

It was Eli Whitney that invented the cotton gin in 1793 and changed the economy of the south.  After the Civil War, people every where used cotton to
give them hard cash to survive.  Cotton was a cash crop that was raised in just about every county in the state of Georgia.

To show the importance of cotton, let me share with you what Jim Minter (Rick Minter's daddy) wrote about,

The Greatest Crop Heaven Ever Sent...

In 1918, 2 million acres were planted in Georgia.  By 1995, the million and a half acres were mostly grown in south Georgia.  Tractors replaced mules.

Today, one worker in South Georgia plants, cultivates and harvests several hundred acres.  Once it took a minimum of 22 trips of man, mule, and plow per row to make one bale.

With favorable weather and luck, a family could produce from 10 to 12 bales, each weighing about 500 pounds.  At 20 cents a pound, a year of hard labor including days of hoeing weeds and nights of dusting boll weevil poison by hand, earned about $1,000, minus expenses and interest on money borrowed for seed, fertilizer and insecticide. 

Yet, there was something good and pure about planting and raising a crop with your own hands.  South Carolina author Ben Robertson wrote:  "No other crop has so shaped the soul of a region as cotton did for the South.  We have bought our clothes with a bale of cotton; we have built our houses with cotton money; we have sold a bale of cotton to pay our way through school.  We have campaigned in politics atop a bale of cotton.  It was the greatest crop Heaven ever sent."

I am a sucker for history!  Cotton is the crop that fascinates me.  It not only defined a region, it's started wars, and brought us into the Industrial Revolution.

Cotton gins dotted the South in the early part of the 20th century.  Each town or county had their own gin.  Many started being run by steam engines and moved to engines and tractors.

In my hometown, the large department store, Belk's, always bought the first bale of cotton grown in Stephens County.  They would then raffle off the money from the sale of that bale to a lucky resident just before Christmas!

Thanks to Farm Shows like the one at Inman, our children have the chance to see first hand where the clothes they wear come from.  Our children (and us!) need the chance to remember how easy our lives are now. 

How easy is it to just go to the store or Internet and get whatever we need!  We also need to remember how important Agriculture is and will always be in our lives!

So....have you thanked a farmer lately???

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  1. Great post! I am not very familiar with cotton, so I found it very interesting. Have a great day.

  2. Oh the memories you've brought back. I live in South West Ga so cotton is part of everything. I grew up looking across the road at a cotton field. My Grandpa grew up on a farm and worked in a cotton gin for a time. He explained the process of farming to me over and over from preparing the field to wearing or eating the end product. We would sit on our front porch and watch them pick and bale until dark and if he saw a new machine we'd hop in the truck and ride out to the field and see what it was. When they would pick it cotton lined the yard and roads. It was like snow to us kids. Even though we don’t live in the same place now I love those memories with my Grandpa and will drag my kids out to a field to watch them work often.

  3. Love all of the facts. Our life is so much easier now a days... good thing for me, since I am lazy. So glad I can just go shopping to get what I need.

    Mrs. Nurse Boy


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