From the Visalia Times-Delta:

After years of declining cotton prices and large numbers of farmers opting to grow other crops, cotton has been making a soft comeback.

In fact, the white fiber is doing so well that in mid-November, Mid-Valley Cotton, Tipton — a cotton gin that closed in late 2006 — re-opened.

"Just as the cotton industry had its little slump, we didn't have enough acreage to support four gins" in Tulare County, said Stan Creelman, manager of Mid-Valley Cotton Growers, Inc., a Tulare-based cotton growers' cooperative.

In its heyday, when cotton was one of the county's top agricultural crops, the Tipton gin -†where seeds, leaves and dirt are removed from the cotton, and the fibers are bailed before being shipped of to be made into thread -†processed more than 40,000 500-pound bails a season, Creelman said.

That's enough cotton to make about 32 million men's dress shirts.

But cotton began declining in popularity among farmers in the early 1990s, as large numbers of dairy operations seeking cheaper land and to avoid the encroachment of growing communities in Southern California relocated here.

In the years that followed, the prices cotton farmers received for their harvests dropped, water availability in the Valley became a growing issue and more profitable crops drew farmers away.

For more, see: Cotton makes a comeback with Tulare County farmers