When the American Civil War interrupted cotton imports, Russia turned to its new colonial territories in the South. Central Asia became the chief supplier of cotton for the Russian empire. New cotton seeds, imported from the United States, were distributed for free by the Russian authorities in Central Asian bazaars. In the late 1880s, the region was incorporated into the Russian railroad network, and cotton cultivation exploded in the rich fields of Turkestan. In 1884, Russian Central Asian cotton was grown on 327 hectares; by 1900, it increased to 272,000 hectares. In the late 19th century, there were approximately 100 cotton mills in Russian Turkestan, with most of the cotton gins imported from the United States.