From the Economist:
LIFE in the modern American cotton industry is relatively calm. In recent years, for example, producers began using plastic straps to secure bales of ginned cotton to the trucks. Plastic bands are safer than steel, and recyclable.
So the events of 2010 took some people by surprise. John Barrett, a cotton producer based in south Texas, explains that around March of last year most of the farmers he works with were happy to contract for that year’s crop at roughly 80 cents a pound. It was, historically speaking, a good price. Hardly anyone expected that, by harvest time, prices would have nearly doubled. In December cotton futures hit a nominal record of $1.59 a pound. The last time prices were so high was during the civil war and its aftermath.