GREENFIELD, Mass. -- U.S. acreage planted to organic cotton in 2005 increased 14 percent from that planted the previous year, according to a 2006 survey conducted by the Organic Trade Association (OTA) and funded by a grant from Cotton Incorporated.

In results released today, OTA's organic cotton survey found 13 farmers grew and harvested organic cotton in the United States during 2005. Farmers in 2005 planted 6,325 acres of organic cotton, an increase of nearly 14 percent over the 5,550 acres planted in 2004.

Most was upland organic cotton, and most organic cotton was grown in Texas, with limited acreage in California and New Mexico.

In addition, acreage planted in 2006 totaled 6,254 acres. Harvesting figures for 2006 are not yet available.

The survey was mailed to 47 people in seven states; 13 farmers returned completed surveys that met the criteria for analysis (namely, they grew organic cotton in 2005). Four additional responding farmers did not grow organic cotton in 2005.

Based on survey results and additional information from the Texas Organic Cotton Marketing Cooperative, approximately 8,655 bales of organic upland cotton and 975 bales of organic pima cotton were harvested in 2005, compared with 6,814 bales harvested in 2004. Overall, the number of bales of organic cotton harvested increased 41 percent from 2004 to 2005.

As in 2004, respondents indicated that their biggest challenge in marketing organic cotton is competition from international organic cotton producers. The average price per pound received by farmers during 2005 ranged from 80 cents to $1.05 for organic upland cotton. No organic pima cotton prices were provided during 2005.

Respondents expressed the need for more educational resources on organic farming from local cooperative extension offices. Their chief resources for staying current with organic standards were communications with other farmers and resources provided by OTA.

The mission of the Organic Trade Association is to promote and protect the growth of organic trade to benefit the environment, farmers, the public and the economy. OTA envisions organic products becoming a significant part of everyday life, enhancing people's lives and the environment. As a membership-based business association, the Organic Trade Association focuses on the organic business community in North America. OTA's more than 1,600 members include farmers, processors, importers, exporters, distributors, retailers, certifiers, and more. OTA's consumer Web site is

SOURCE: Organic Trade Association via PR Newswire.