Georgia Cotton ~ 2018-19
In these photographs, cotton fields in Houston County and Peach County have been harvested for the season, the cotton bound into modules awaiting pickup. The U.S. is still the world's largest exporter of cotton, about 35% of global production.
For over two hundred years, cotton has been integral to the southern economy. During the early to mid-nineteenth century, the U.S. produced 80% of the world's cotton. These balls of fluff have transformed the world, driving waves of industrial innovation, but also the misery of slave labor that led to the U.S. Civil War. Even now, a number of countries still use forced child labor in the cotton industry. Cotton also requires vast amounts of water to grow, depleting valuable resources in regions without adequate water supplies, depriving communities of fresh water, and harming fragile environments.
Harvesting begins in late autumn with the cotton bound in stretchy plastic sheaths. Each module contains 12-14 bales of cotton and weighs up to 5,000 pounds.