How to Become a Cotton Farmer

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Raising cotton takes hard work and good weather.
Raising cotton takes hard work and good weather. (Image: Hemera Technologies/AbleStock.com/Getty Images)

The cotton industry is huge, with cotton grown in dozens of countries around the world. Becoming a cotton farmer on a small scale is easier than starting a commercially viable farm that can compete with the enormous operations that already control the market. Cotton is a crop that requires lots of hot weather, so it is only viable in southern locations.

Things You'll Need

  • Land
  • Cotton seeds
  • Water

Buy land that is suitable for growing cotton. You will need a location with a lot of hot, sunny weather and access to water. If you are growing cotton as a hobby or for personal use, your farm doesn't need to be very large. If you are attempting to make a living as a cotton farmer, you will need to profit from economies of scale, and will require at least 100 acres of land.

Educate yourself in the intricacies of the cotton plant. This can be done on the job by working on a cotton farm, or more formally by attending an agricultural college and pursuing an advanced degree in agriculture. Learning by trial and error can be an expensive proposition in agriculture; the more you learn in advance from the experience of others, the more likely you are to avoid expensive mistakes.

Plant your cotton seeds and provide them with all the requirements for them to thrive, including fertile soil, water and sunshine. Conventional cotton growing involves the use of large amounts of pesticides and herbicides. Decide if this the route you want to pursue, or if you want to attempt to grow organic cotton. Growing organically is more labor-intensive, but you can sell your crop at a higher price.

Develop a working relationship with suppliers and buyers. Agriculture is a competitive business, and you will need connections and a good reputation to sell your crop every year for a good price. Turn as much of your profit as possible back into your farm to improve your infrastructure and make your farm more viable every year.

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