Once 'King,' cotton farming on a long decline in U.S. south

Thursday, November 19, 2015

Once 'King,' cotton farming on a long decline in U.S. south


Fields along the Mississippi River Delta once gleamed white in the autumn with acre upon acre of cotton ready to be picked. But to see the decline of a cash crop once nicknamed "King Cotton" one need look no further than the 300 acres (121 hectares) that Michael Shelton farms in Clarksdale, Mississippi, about 75 miles (120 km) down river from Memphis. The fields were recently cleared of wheat and soybeans, and just one long row of cotton, which Shelton, 65, said he planted "for memory."

"I wanted to say I planted cotton every year," said Shelton, who is black and whose property includes the 40 acres (16 hectares) his ancestors acquired in the late 19th century, not long after the abolition of slavery.

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