Cotton as a major cash crop is of considerable social and economic importance to Nigeria. Cotton/textile activities are widespread in the country. Its production in Nigeria dates back to 1903 with the British Cotton Growers Association taking the lead until 1974, when it was disbanded and replaced by the Cotton Marketing Board to develop, gin and market the produce.  Cotton is a soft and fluffy staple fiber that grows in a boll, or a protective capsule, around the seeds of cotton seeds of the cotton plants of the genus Gossypium. The fiber is almost pure cellulose.

The plant is shrub that is native to tropical and subtropical regions around the world, including the Americas, Africa and India. The greatest diversity of wild cotton species is found in Mexico, followed by Australia and Africa. Cotton was independently domesticated in the Old and New Worlds.

The fiber is most often spun into a yarn or thread to make a soft breathable fabric.

There are four commercially grown species of cotton; and they include;

  • Gossypium hirsutum
  • Gossypium barbadense
  • Gossypium arboreum
  • Gossypium herbaceum

Life Cycle of the Cotton Plant

The cotton plant will bloom about 8 to 10 weeks after the seed is planted.  These blooms start out as yellow or white and once pollinated turn pink and falls off.  At the base of the flower bud is the cotton boll and inside that are about 32 cotton seeds with fiber. 


The fiber is the white fluffy cotton that we are all familiar with.  As the boll grows, the fibers get longer and thicker and eventually the boll opens up at the 18 to 20 week mark and you can see the white cotton.  After this, the crop is defoliated and 10 days later the leaves die leaving only the stalk with the white cotton fiber.  This is when it is best for photography as well as harvesting. 


Weather plays a huge part in when harvest happens as a severe rain can completely ruin the quality of the fiber.  Here at Cornestone Farms we harvest as fast as possible using spindle pickers which pull the cotton fiber from the plant using barbed spindles. The non-research cotton grown at Cornestone Farms is taken to a gin where it is dried and cleaned and the seed is removed from the fiber.  It is classed based on fiber length, color, and other factors then baled and sold to make items like apparel, towels e.t.c. The cotton seed is also sold and used for livestock feed or human food products such as salad oil.

Benefits of Cotton

Emmenagogue Properties Cotton root is an emmenagogue and such very effective for stimulating blood flow in the uterus and the pelvic area. It is also effective for tackling dysmenorrhoea, which is a female condition marked by painful menstruation with abdominal cramps. The root bark of cotton can be prepared and used by women suffering from menstrual problems as it helps to promote menstruation.

Sexual Organ Stimulation The root bark of cotton plant is an aphrodisiac thus effective for stimulating the sexual organs. The bark can be chewed or used together with other herbs for preparing sex stimulants.

Wound Healing Properties Methanolic extract of cotton leaves can be used for treating and healing wound. This is due to the presence of several phytochemicals such as saponins, flavonoids and tannins in the plant. The cotton leaves can be dried and ground into powdered form, which can be applied on cuts, bruises and wounds for stopping bleeding. The seeds can be pounded into a poultice for applying on scalds and burns in other to ease off inflammation and soreness of the skin. The leaves can be squashed and applied externally on the skin to quicken boil maturation.

Galactagogue Properties Gossypium herbaceum is a galactagogue and as such can be used for preparing herbal medicines for boosting lactation and increasing breast milk production in new mothers.

Treatment of Bronchial Asthma This shrubby plant is used in folk medicine for treating bronchial asthma. Asthma is a chronic inflammatory disease of the airways that is characterized by recurring attacks of the bronchial tree and lungs. It is symptomized by shortness of breath, coughing, chest tightness, wheezing.

Anti-fertility Effects Researchers report that gossypol, which is a phenolic compound from cottonseed oil can act as a male contraceptive. Gossypol treatment can reduce the luteinizing hormone level and serum testosterone level. Gossypol can act on testes to cause oligospermia (deficiency of sperm cells in the semen) or azoospermia, which is the absence of viable and motile sperm in the semen. Due to the contraceptive properties of cotton seeds, the effects can last up to 3 months when used by women.

Dermatological Care Gossypium herbaceum is used for preparing medicines for treating skin diseases and infections. The herbal milk can be used as a skin moisturizer and for caring/conditioning hair. Cottonseed oil is an excellent source of vitamin E thus useful for making cosmetics that help to prevent wrinkles, prevent early skin ageing while at the same time retaining the elasticity of ageing skin. The seed oil can be used for clearing skin spots and freckles.

Anticonvulsant Properties Studies reveal that cotton contains gossypin, which is a bioflavonoid that occurs naturally in plants. Gossypin contains anticonvulsant activity and as such effective for treating patients suffering from convulsion and for minimizing the severity of epileptic fits.

Antidepressant Properties The aqueous extract of cotton contains antidepressant properties and as such can be used to alleviate depression.
Eases Childbirth Studies reveal that the root bark of cotton is very useful for women as it eases childbirth. Cotton leaves can be combined with Bambusa arundinacea (Bans) and given orally to induce first stage of labor.

Anti-oxidizing Properties Hydro alcoholic extract of cotton seeds contains antioxidants due to its flavonoid and phenolic content. Cotton reduces free radical to hydrazine during its reaction with hydrogen donors.

 Anti-ulcer Properties Both the ethanolic and aqueous extracts of cotton flowers facilitate the healing of gastric ulcer due to its antiulcer properties.

Diuretic Properties The alcoholic extract of cotton is diuretic in nature and as such can be used for increasing the passage of urine.

Treatment of Gout The cotton leaves can be squeezed and used for treating gout. Gout is a disease caused as a result of improper metabolism of uric acid that causes arthritis especially in the bones of the feet thereby causing acute pain.

Treatment of Headache Cottonseed can be blended and used for preparing herbal tonic for treating headache and relieving from tension. The seeds can also be ground into powdered form and mixed with milk for relieving headaches. 

 Anti-malarial Properties Cotton leaves can be decocted and used for treating malaria and eradicating malaria parasites. Laxative Cotton seeds are good laxatives. It also helps to flush out toxins from the body during the purgative process. To prepare the laxative, ground the seeds into powdered form and mix with milk. 

 Treatment of Gastrointestinal Diseases The cotton seeds and leaves can be decocted and used for treating gastrointestinal diseases such as dysentery and indigestion. 

 Treatment of Orchitis Orchitis is a disease condition symptomized by the inflammation of one or both of the testicles. Both the seeds and leaves of cotton can be blended together with ginger and water for treating orchitis. Female Care Cotton flowers are used for preparing herbal medicine for treating premenopausal symptoms, uterine bleeding and endometriosis. 

 Anti-poisonous The cotton seeds, leaves and mustard seeds can be blended together and applied on areas bitten by poisonous animals like scorpion or poisonous insects. Antibacterial Properties Cotton contains antibacterial properties and as such can interfere with the growth and multiplication of bacteria. 

 Textile Production Cotton is popularly used in the textile industry for producing clothes. The cotton fibers are separated from their seeds using a cotton gin machine. The separation process of the cotton fibers can also be done manually but it is time-consuming and more strenuous. Cotton fibers are woven into fabrics that we wear on a day to day basis. Another important produce from cotton is the cottonseed oil. Even though this oil is not a popular oil in most parts of the world, yet places like the United States and Europe continue to benefit from this essential oil.