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The South Central States Cotton and Deltas 156

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THE SOUTH CENTRAL STATES COTTON AND DELTAS 156. The uses of cotton.—Most of the boys and girls in your class are wearing as a part of their clothing something from the South Central States. It is cotton. Most of the clothing worn by the people of the United States, and of Europe too, is made of cotton, although some of our warm winter clothing is made of wool. Men's and boys' suits and overcoats are usually made partly or entirely of wool.

Thousands of farmers in each of the South Central States except Kentucky sell nothing but cotton, just as farmers in Kansas or North Dakota sell nothing but wheat: The long hairs or fibers of the cotton plant grow in a seed pod called a boll, and are stuck fast to the cotton seed. When the seed is ripe the boll bursts open and the white cotton is ready to pick. Cotton is like wool in that it is easy to twist its fibers into yarn, which can then be woven into cloth. Can you twist a rope of dry grass, hay or excelsior? 157. Growing cotton. — In the early spring the cotton grower plows and har rows his field as he would for corn or wheat. (Sec. 63.) Then he plants the black seeds in long rows across the field. When the young plants peep through the ground, many weeds come up with them. Then the farmer and his boys, and sometimes the girls too, take hoes and chop out the weeds that are close to the little cotton plant. They also thin out the cotton plants so that each one will have room to grow. The weeds between the rows are kept down by plows drawn by horses or mules. It is a busy job to keep the weeds out of the cotton, for weeds grow very quickly in the warm, moist weather of the South Central States. There must be no frost for seven months between the plant ing and ripening time, or the cotton will be spoiled. For this reason, cotton is not grown north of the warmer parts of Tennes see and the southern edge of Virginia.

158. Picking and marketing cotton.— In the late summer and autumn, the cotton is ready to pick. This is the busiest time of all the year in the cotton region. Men,

women, boys, and girls, go along the rows picking the fluffy white fiber from the plants by hand, and putting it into the long bags which they carry over their shoulders. The cotton does not all ripen at once, so the picking lasts for weeks. Wagons haul the full bags from the field to the gin house, where a machine (cotton gin) pulls the cotton fibers away from the seeds. Next it is put into heavy presses and squeezed up tight into bales, so that it will not take up so much room. When baled, the cot ton is ready to sell, and the farmer hauls it to the railroad station or to the boat landing.

Some Southern cotton is grown on large farms called plantations. These are often divided up into many parts, each of which is rented by a tenant. These tenants may be either white men or negroes.

A bale of cotton is worth a lot of money. Find out from some newspaper the price of cotton, and the value of a five-hundred pound bale of cotton. With a few wagon loads, the farmer can pay many bills, and buy the things he needs to last him and his family until he sells his cotton the next year. If the price of cotton is high, the farmer feels rich, but if it is down a few cents a pound he feels poor.

The cotton map (Fig. 163) shows that cotton is grown also in the South Atlantic States, where the climate is much the same as in the South Central States. (See Figs. 64 and 88.) 159. Cotton trade and cotton in other is more cotton grown in the United States than in all the other countries of the world. Much of it is sent away to the peoples of other countries. Freight trains and the steamboats carry it to the ports of Galveston, New Orleans, Mobile, Savannah, Charleston, and Wil mington. From these ports, steamships carry it over the sea to our own northern states and to many foreign countries.

The chief countries that buy cotton from us are England, France, Germany, and Japan. Besides exporting cotton to nearly every country in the world, the United States also brings in some cot ton from Egypt.

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