Organic cotton continued a nearly decade-long growth trend in 2011, with approximately 16,000 acres planted, according to the Organic Trade Association.

That was up sharply from 2010, when nearly 12,000 acres of organic cotton were planted.

Last year’s total represented the largest number of acres planted since 1999, according to the 2010 and Preliminary 2011 US Organic Cotton Production & Marketing Trends report conducted by the OTA.

However, harvested acres and bales are expected to be down by 38 and 45 percent, respectively, due to a devastating drought in the Southern Plains, according to Southeast Farm Press.

Extremely dry conditions in Texas forced farmers there to abandon more than 65 percent of their planted crop in 2011, the publication added.

A modest acreage gain of two percent is forecast for 2012, bringing plantings of US organic cotton to 16,406 acres.

Organic cotton is cotton grown from non-genetically modified plants without the use of fertilizers or pesticides.

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Brandy Station, Va., was the site of the largest predominantly cavalry engagement ever fought on American soil, when a total of 20,000 Confederate and Union men locked horns near Culpeper on June 9, 1863.

The so-called Graffiti House served as a field hospital for the South during the Battle of Brandy Station and other local battles during the war. It also served as a headquarters site for Federal forces during the winter encampment of 1863-64. 

Soldiers from both sides made drawings and signed their names and units on the walls. 

Then, at some point, probably years after the war ended, the owner of the house decided to cover up the graffiti – written mostly using charcoal – on the walls.

By then a layer of dirt and soot had built up on the white plaster walls, and that thin membrane was just enough to preserve hundreds of historical scribblings, according to the Fredericksburg Free Lance-Star.

Since the graffiti was rediscovered in 1993, conservationists such as Chris Mills have worked to preserve the Civil War-era signatures and drawings found throughout the circa-1858 structure.

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