- For the railroad called "Cotton Belt," see St. Louis Southwestern Railway.
The Cotton Belt region in dark red, and cotton growing areas in pink.
Cotton Belt is a term applied to a region of the southern United States where cotton was the predominant cash crop from the late 18th century into the 20th century.
Before the invention of the cotton gin in 1793, cotton production was limited to coastal plain areas of South Carolina and Georgia, and, on a smaller scale, along the lower Mississippi River. After 1793 the Natchez District rapidly became the leading cotton-producing region. Natchez planters developed new cotton plant hybrids and a mechanized system that fueled the spread of the cotton plantation system throughout the Old Southeast.
By the middle of the 19th century, the Cotton Belt extended from Maryland to East Texas. The most intensive cotton production occurred in Georgia, Tennessee, Alabama, Arkansas and Mississippi, together with parts of Florida, Louisiana and Texas. High productivity depended on the plantation system and slavery combined with fertile soils and a favorable climate. After the Civil War, sharecropping replaced slavery as the primary source of labor. Cotton production in the region declined in the 20th century due to soil depletion, the boll weevil, and social changes in the region. Cotton is still grown in parts of the region, but agricultural land in the region is now used primarily for crops such as corn, wheat, soybeans, and peanuts; livestock; and commercial timber production. Rice has also become a very valuable agricultural crop in Arkansas, Louisiana, and Texas.
- ^ a b c d Cotton Belt, The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed.
- ^ a b Meinig, D.W. (1993). The Shaping of America: A Geographical Perspective on 500 Years of History, Volume 2: Continental America, 1800-1867. Yale University Press. pp. 286–288. ISBN 0-300-05658-3.
- ^ Moore, John Hebron (1988). The emergence of the Cotton Kingdom in the Old Southwest: Mississippi, 1770-1860. LSU Press. pp. 4–13, 117, 286–287. ISBN 978-0-8071-1404-9. Retrieved 23 March 2011.
- ^ a b c Cotton Belt, Research Machines plc 2004
Coordinates: 32°N 83°W / 32°N 83°W