Photographer: Dhiraj Singh/Bloomberg

Cotton: The World Has Too Much

The global market for cotton is full: there's enough of the fluffy, white stuff in warehouses across the planet to produce more than 127 billion T-shirts, by Bloomberg News' calculations.

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    Cotton is at its second biggest inventory ever, and bar charts of soaring global supplies suggest that it'd be better to find something else to grow for a while.

    Photographer: Dhiraj Singh/Bloomberg

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    Even with the global glut, what's a cotton operation to do but keep farming?

    Photographer: Dhiraj Singh/Bloomberg

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    Workers spread out across the cotton fields of Gujarat at the western tip of India and pick the buds, piece by piece, off bristly branches, and then haul off the sacks on the top of their heads.

    Photographer: Dhiraj Singh/Bloomberg

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    A worker holds bolls of hand-picked cotton in Gujarat.

    Photographer: Dhiraj Singh/Bloomberg

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    The cotton is loaded up on trucks and taken to auction, where it spills out from engorged bags in every direction, a pale ocean covering the ground.

    Photographer: Dhiraj Singh/Bloomberg

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    Traders gather for an auction at a market in Gujarat.

    Photographer: Dhiraj Singh/Bloomberg

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    Workers unload cotton from trucks at a market.

    Photographer: Dhiraj Singh/Bloomberg

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    There are worries about an insect plague that's hit some cotton crops in India. But the Cotton Association of India says the country had "the highest ever opening stock available at the beginning of the season 2015-16." The estimated surplus: more than 2.3 million tons.

    Photographer: Dhiraj Singh/Bloomberg

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    Traders gather for an auction at a market in Rajkot.The estimated surplus of cotton at the start of the season in India: more than 2.3 million tons. 

    Photographer: Dhiraj Singh/Bloomberg

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    A truck stands parked next to a pile of cotton at a ginning mill in Gujarat.

    Dhiraj Singh/Bloomberg

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    A worker sits on a pile of cotton while talking on a mobile phone at a ginning mill.

    Photographer: Dhiraj Singh/Bloomberg

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    Despite the global glut, more and more cotton comes to be cleaned, packed and bundled.

    Photographer: Dhiraj Singh/Bloomberg

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    A worker seals bundles of packed cotton in a pressing machine at a ginning mill.

    Photographer: Dhiraj Singh/Bloomberg

  14. 14

    A worker arranges bundles of pressed cotton. Hopefully, the world can use another t-shirt or two.

    Photographer: Dhiraj Singh/Bloomberg