Cattle and cotton remain staples of Texas’s agricultural economy. The state’s wide-open spaces allowed both commodities to grow freely when settlers arrived in the mid-1800s, and Texas’s remaining abundance of available land continues to make it the most important cattle-raising state in the country.
Nearly all of the state’s 254 counties derive more revenue from cattle than any other agricultural commodity; those that don’t almost always rank cattle second in importance. Cattle dominate Texas’s livestock production, contributing approximately 70 percent of the state’s livestock and products sales. And if those aren’t enough agricultural accolades, consider this: Texas ranks first nationally in production of cattle, beef cattle, sheep, lamb, wool, goats, and mohair.
Cotton, meanwhile, became a prominent crop due to the immigration of settlers from the Deep South, who continued their plantation system of agriculture when they arrived in Texas. Cotton production grew steadily after 1900, and the crop became a major economic factor when suitable varieties were developed for the West Texas climate. Since that time, Texas has led all states in cotton production virtually every year, and it provides approximately one-quarter of the country’s cotton supply.
In total value of farm crops, Texas consistently has ranked in the top five among the states since the mid-20th century and has been a leading producer of grain sorghums, peanuts (groundnuts), and rice. Incidentally, nearly all of the mohair produced in the United States comes from Texas’s Angora goats.
© Andy Rhodes from Moon Texas, 6th Edition