WHAT IS COTTON?:
COTTON is defined as white fibrous substance covering seeds harvested from Cotton Plant.
SEED COTTON (called Kapas in India - Paruthi in Tamil)harvested from Cotton Plant.
LINT COTTON (RUIA in Hindi, PANJU in Tamil) is obtained by removing the seeds in a ginning machine.
LINT COTTON is spun into Yarn, which is woven or knitted into a Fabric. Researchers have found that cotton was grown more than 9000 years ago. However large scale cultivation commenced during middle of 17th Century AD.
Many varieties of Cotton are cultivated mainly from 3 important genetic species of Gossipium.
G. HIRSUTUM - 87% Grown in America, Africa, Asia, Australia Plant grows to a height of 2 Meters.
G. BARBADENSE- 8% Grown in America, Africa & Asia. Plant grows to a height of 2.5 Meters with yellow flowers, long fibers with good quality, fibers with long staple and fineness
G. Arboreum - 5% Perennial plant grows up to 2 meters with red flowers, poor quality fibers in East Africa and South East Asia.
There are four other species grown in very negligible quantities. Cotton harvested from the Plant by hand - picking or machine picking is ginned to remove seeds and the lint is pressed into Bales for delivery to Spinning Mills. Cotton is Roller Ginned (RG) or Saw Ginned (SG) depending varieties and ginning practices.
Cotton is cultivated in 75 Countries with an area of 32 Million Hectares. Cultivation period varies from 175 days to 225 days depending on variety. Cotton is harvested in two seasons, summer and winter seasons.
Saw ginned cotton is more uniform and cleaner than Roller Ginned Cotton. But fibers quality is retained better quality in Roller Ginning than Saw Ginning which has high productivity.
Cotton Fiber is having a tubular structure in twisted form. Now. researchers have developed coloured cotton also. As on date, percentage of Cotton fiber use is more than synthetic fibers. But, its share is gradually reducing. Cotton is preferred for under garments due its comfort to body skin. Synthetics have more versatile uses and advantage for Industrial purposes.
PROPERTIES OF COTTON
No other material is quite like cotton. It is the most
important of all natural fibres, accounting for half of all the
fibres used by the world's textile industry.
Cotton has many qualities that make it the best choice for countless uses:
Cotton fibres have a natural twist that makes them so suitable for spinning into a very strong yarn.
The ability of water to penetrate right to the core of the fibre makes it easy to remove dirt from the cotton garments, and creases are easily removed by ironing.
Cotton fabric is soft and comfortable to wear close to skin because of its good moisture absorption qualities.
Charges of static electricity do not build up readily on the clothes.
HISTORY OF COTTON
Nobody seems to know exactly when people first began to use
cotton, but there is evidence that it was cultivated in India
and Pakistan and in Mexico and Peru 5000 years ago. In these two
widely separated parts of the world, cotton must have grown
wild. Then people learned to cultivate cotton plants in their
In Europe, wool was the only fiber used to make clothing. Then from the Far East came tales of plants that grew "wool". Traders claimed that cotton was the wool of tiny animals called Scythian lambs, that grew on the stalks of a plant. The stalks, each with a lamb as its flower, were said to bend over so the small sheep could graze on the grass around the plant. These fantastic stories were shown to be untrue when Arabs brought the cotton plant to Spain in Middle Ages.
In the fourteenth century cotton was grown in Mediterranean countries and shipped from there to mills in the Netherlands in western Europe for spinning and weaving. Until the mid eighteenth century, cotton was not manufactured in England, because the wool manufacturers there did not want it to compete with their own product. They had managed to pass a law in 1720 making the manufacture or sale of cotton cloth illegal. When the law was finally repealed in 1736, cotton mills grew in number. In the United States though, cotton mills could not be established, as the English would not allow any of the machinery to leave the country because they feared the colonies would compete with them. But a man named Samuel Slater, who had worked in a mill in England, was able to build an American cotton mill from memory in 1790.
GROWING THE COTTON
Cotton plant's leaves resemble maple leaves and flowers look very much like pink mallow flowers that grow in swampy areas. They are relatives and belong in the same plant family.
Cotton is grown in about 80 countries, in a band that stretches around the world between latitudes 45 North to 30 South. For a good crop of cotton a long, sunny growing season with at least 160 frost-free days and ample water are required. Well drained, crumbly soils that can keep moisture well are the best. In most regions extra water must be supplied by irrigation. Because of it's long growing season it is best to plant early but not before the sun has warmed the soil enough.
Seedlings appear about 5 days after planting the seeds. Weeds have to be removed because they compete with seedlings for water, light and minerals and also encourage pests and diseases. The first flower buds appear after 5-6 weeks, and in another 3-5 weeks these buds become flowers.
Each flower falls after only 3 days leaving behind a small seed pot, known as the boll. Children in cotton-growing areas in the South sometimes sing this song about the flowers:
First day white, next day red,
third day from my birth - I'm dead.
Each boll contains about 30 seeds, and up to 500 000 fibres of cotton. Each fibre grows its full length in 3 weeks and for the following 4-7 weeks each fiber gets thicker as layers of cellulose build up the cell walls. While this is happening the boll matures and in about 10 weeks after flowering it splits open. The raw cotton fibres burst out to dry in the sun. As they lose water and die, each fibre collapses into what looks like a twisted ribbon. Now is time for harvesting. Most cotton is hand-picked. This is the best method of obtaining fully grown cotton because unwanted material, called "trash", like leaves and the remains of the boll are left behind. Also the cotton that is too young to harvest is left for a second and third picking. A crop can be picked over a period of two months as the bolls ripen. Countries that are wealthy and where the land is flat enough usually pick cotton with machines - cotton harvesters.
GLOBAL COTTON - VATIETIES - PLANTING AND HARVESTING PERIODS
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