A Soft Place to Land
Cotton Bloom and Mount Graham, Pima, AZ 22×28 oil on canvas
This summer, we took the long way to the White Mountains, traveling through Safford and Morenci en route to the Coronado Trail. As we passed through the farming town of Pima, Arizona, I noticed fields of greenish-white flowers waving to me in the breeze. It was time to pull over and pay homage to a very important C of Arizona, Cotton.
Stretching out as far as the eye could see along the Gila River to the north and Mount Graham to the south, were healthy fields of these beautiful plants. Cotton has a rich and important history in Arizona. It has been cultivated in our desert for over 3000 years, originally by the Hohokam, who dug canals to irrigate their crops. And it was the Pima tribe who helped scientists develop the variety we know today as Pima Cotton.
And cotton, by the way, is not just for soft sheets.
In 1917, Paul Litchfield purchased 16,000 acres in the valley as part of the Goodyear Tire Company, and cotton was used to help make rubber tires for airplanes during World War I; the cultivated cotton went into the tire threads. Like a good steak? Cotton seed is used to feed dairy and feedlot cattle. Thanks to a long growing season, fertile soil, and precious water, Arizona cotton continues to bring millions and millions into our Arizona economy.
It’s also wonderful that this useful plant has such a beautiful, showy flower.
So, when you sink your tired bones into your Pima Cotton sheets tonight, thank the Native American and modern farmers who have worked hard in our Arizona soil, creating a soft place for you to land.
For more facts about Cotton: Arizona Farm Bureau 2016