How Much Does a Bale of Cotton Cost?

Written by: Staff

Raw cotton, sold in bales, is stored in the warehouses of cotton suppliers and dealers.  In India, a bale of cotton is equivalent to 375 pounds, while in the United States, it is 470 pounds.  A module can be made up of 13 to 15 bales.  There can be variations in weight due to differences in ginning operations and the supplier.

Cotton Harvest by kimberlykv, on Flickr
Cotton Harvest” (CC BY 2.0) by  kimberlykv

How much does a bale of cotton cost?

The cost of cotton will depend on the length, its strength, uniformity and color; however, other metrics may be involved as well.

According to the IRS, each bale will have 500 pounds and the standard will cost $0.70 to $0.80 per pound.  Doing the math, the average bale at 470 pounds can cost $329.  But like the stock market, it will depend on the current market conditions.  Plan on spending anywhere from as little as $0.60 to more than $1.50 per pound.

Visit to see current market conditions.

Some retailers online, such as, sell small two-inch bales for $8 and 18-inch for $65.

The cost of cotton fabric can cost $0.50 to $1.50 per foot.

What are the extra costs?

Depending on the quantity and buyer, shipping charges will more than likely apply.

Tips to know

Cotton is used as a fiber, feed and even food crop.  It’s known for its versatility, appearance, performance and natural comfort.  About two-thirds of the cotton harvested today is crushed into seed, which in turn, can create cottonseed oil — something found in salad dressing and shortening.

Texas is the largest state that produces cotton.  Historically, though, China is the largest grower, followed by India.  The United States comes in third. 17 states harvest cotton.

Depending on the geographical location, cotton is commonly planted in February in South Texas and as late as June in the northern areas of the Cotton Belt.  It will start to be harvested in late July until November.

A bale of cotton can produce a pinch more than 1,000 t-shirts or more than 300,000 $100 bills.

The average acre yields about 685 pounds of cotton, which means an acre is worth about $500.

How much does it cost to produce cotton?  On average, it costs a farmer about $0.60 to $0.70 per acre when all operating costs such as seed, fertilizer, fuel, repairs, water and labor are factored in.

How can I save money?

Many exporters and suppliers have an online store where you can directly contact them.  Contact at least three suppliers to talk about their pricing and what they can do for you.

Buying locally could save on shipping costs.

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