Why cotton matters to us

Why cotton matters to us

The demand for cotton is huge: shirts, curtains, kitchen towels, jeans, and bed sheets, not to mention bandages, diapers, candlewicks, coffee filters and even banknotes. We help farmers meet this demand with our high-performing cotton seeds.

From these seeds grow plants with fibers that match the needs of cotton processors. Fine yarn is spun from cotton fibers, with quality determined by length, gauge, color and any impurities. Processors prefer fibers to be all the same length, strength and quality. After separation from the fiber, the remaining seeds and linter (very short hair fibers) find multiple uses, such as for pulp, ropes, oils, fuels and – of course – seeds for planting.

Cotton in the world economy

Cotton in the world economy
Cotton in the world economy

An area of more than 30 million hectares - about as large as Poland - is devoted to the cultivation of cotton worldwide. It is spread across more than 80 countries located mostly in tropical and subtropical regions.

The largest producers are China, India, the United States, Pakistan and Brazil, which between them grow around 75 per cent of the world’s cotton.

Cotton – it all starts with the seed

Superior Fiber Length: The longer fiber length of Certified FiberMax Cotton® is ideal for 30/1 and 40/1 yarns and is uniquely suited for premium sport shirts, T-shirts, chinos and twills.

High quality seeds are crucial for high productivity. Our leading seed brands are FiberMax™, Stoneville™ and Surpass™. They guarantee strong plants and high quality fiber and have made us the leading supplier of seeds to the major markets in the United States and Brazil and into key markets in Europe, Turkey and Greece.

We employ state-of-the art breeding technology to continuously improve the performance of the plants under the diverse conditions of cotton fields.

Problems farmers face

Our love of cotton is shared by many other life forms, such as the boll weevil. One hundred and fifty years ago, this tiny insect brought cotton farming in Mexico to a standstill. From there, the weevil migrated to the United States where it spread like wildfire, ruining the livelihoods of thousands. Following an ambitious eradication program, the insect no longer poses a major threat there.

Other insect pests such as bollworms, bugs, leafhoppers, aphids and whiteflies also make life difficult for farmers. And then there are the diseases transmitted by fungi and bacteria.

Like all crop plants, cotton must vie with weeds for nutrients and water. Consequently, drought has a devastating effect on the plants – and thus also on cotton farmers.

(From left to right) Larva of cotton bollworm, Spodoptera littoralis, adult moth, Caterpillar of Alabama argillacea.

Answers we offer

We build our seeds to include characteristics such as herbicide tolerance and insect resistance. As cotton farmers seek new ideas and answers to their pest and weed challenges, our seeds help them farm sustainably and competitively.

We use modern plant biotechnology to enable cotton farmers to apply the most effective weed control products via our Liberty™ Link and GlyTol™ tolerance traits. Built-in protection against the attack of leaf-eating larvae is another important feature for successful and sustainable cotton growing and we have developed our own technology, TwinLink™, with double action power to outsmart these pests.

The valuable seeds need to be protected against soil-dwelling insects, nematodes and diseases, as well as very early insect invasions on recently emerged plants, a job thoroughly taken care of by our seed treatment products Gaucho™ and Poncho™/Votivo™.

Our crop protection products for foliar use are ahead of the competition. Our range of insecticides extends from Confidor™, Movento™ and Oberon™, which control sucking insects and mites, through to Belt™ and Connect™ which combat bollworms and bugs. Nativo™, Fox™ and Antracol™ belong to our broad portfolio of fungicides.

New technologies for the field

We’ve introduced a certification system which documents the authenticity of cotton. The quality mark is used from seed through to yarn and beyond. It protects both processors and the reputation of the farmers who grow genuine FiberMax™ and Stoneville™ cotton.

We develop new cotton varieties that are sustainable and competitive through our global network of research facilities and alliances. We have research laboratories in Texas, North Carolina and Belgium and we’ve established testing stations for field trials in major cotton-growing countries such as Australia, Brazil, India and the United States.