U.S. Cotton Bale Dimensions

Description and characteristics of a typical U.S. gin universal density cotton bale.

The Joint Cotton Industry Bale Packaging Committee (JCIBPC) established the following guidelines in 2001 to clarify the dimensions of cotton bales compressed to U.S. Gin Universal Density Bale standards:

"…the outside bulge to bulge (thickness) dimensions shall average no greater than 33 inches (.84 m) and outliers are not to exceed 34 inches (.86 m)."

Bale Dimensions diagram

Physical Description

While tie length is an indicator of bale thickness, other factors that play a role in determining bale thickness should not be ignored. Some of these factors are cotton’s natural resilience, the force applied during bale pressing and the bagging material used to protect the lint.

Size matters! Producing uniform well-protected cotton bales for our mill customers is a primary goal of the U.S. bale packaging program. Uniform cotton bales benefit the U.S. industry by maximizing mill processing efficiency, as well as creating efficiencies for everyone storing, handling, and transporting bales of cotton.

History of Cotton Bale Packaging Sizes from 1900s to present day.

Gin Universal Density Bale*

Approximate Values





Net Weight

500 pounds

226.8 kg


54-55 inches

1.37-1.40 m


20-21 inches

0.51-.53 m

Average Bulge Thickness

33 inches (or less)

0.84 m (or less)


17 ft3

0.48 m3


28 lbs./ ft3

472 kg/ m3

Note: These are approximate values and some normal variations are to be expected.

*Gin Universal Density and Gin Standard Density Bale tie lengths for approved ties can be found in the JCIBPC Publication Specifications for Cotton Bale Packaging Materials.