The end result is a lot more cotton will be used in the future in football, basketball and baseball uniforms and many, many other items that come under the heading of active wear and sports wear.

Storm Denim and Storm Cotton are two other processes developed by Cotton Inc. that continue to protect the denim market for U.S. cotton growers.

During his presentation at the recent Cotton Inc. grower tour, Messura paused poured himself a full glass of water — the crowd thought to clear his throat. Instead he held up a pair of jeans made with Storm Denim and doused the garment with a glass of water.

Amazingly, the jeans were perfectly dry. The only thing wet was the carpet in the Grand Ballroom of the Marriott Hotel in Raleigh.

Storm Denim and Storm Cotton are now being used in a multitude of garments that were once the domain of polyester. Like Transdry, Storm Cotton and Storm Denim show up in retail stores under myriad names.

L.L. Bean, for example, markets a line of denim jeans and canvas pants made from the new cotton process. Messura also doused a heavy cotton windbreaker with water — same result — a maintenance problem for the Marriott. No longer does a windbreaker have to be nylon or any polyester, he noted.

While L.L. Bean may be the most visible user of the new process, companies like 5.11 tactical that sells uniforms to fire fighters and a number of other professions that require lightweight, yet worker friendly materials; and Williamson Dickie, who sell the process as StormFleece hooded jackets, are likely to use more cotton.

How cotton ranks in the multi-billion dollar apparel industry, compared to a myriad of polyester fabrics is a lifeline for the U.S. industry and impacts the economic lives of cotton farmers all over the world.

This year cotton has 61 percent market-share in the apparel and non-woven markets. Every time market share drops one percent, about 175 million fewer pounds of cotton are used in clothes, diapers, baby wipes and a number of other cotton products.

Fortunately, demand for cotton has been on the incline for the past decade. Despite ups and downs in cotton prices over the past decade, market share for cotton products has inched up about one percent per year.

At today’s price for cotton, a continued one percent gain over the next 10 years would mean about $20 billion to the cotton industry. The biggest beneficiaries of such an increase would almost certainly be cotton farmers.

It’s no secret the future looks bright for cotton over the next few years. Bright does not equate to guaranteed, however.

Worldwide cotton stocks stand at about 35 percent, down from 50 percent just a couple of years back. The downward trend in cotton stocks bodes well for high prices for farmers, but it’s a very slippery slope.