Maximum cotton fiber lengths were reached when night temperatures were around 19 to 20 °C, depending on the genotype .  Early-stage fiber elongation was highly temperature dependent; late fiber elongation was temperature independent . Fiber length (upper-half mean length) was negatively correlated with the difference between maximum and minimum temperature.

    Modifications of fiber length by growth temperatures also have been observed in planting-date studies in which the later planting dates were associated with small increases in 2.5 and 50% span lengths . If the growing season is long enough and other inhibitory factors do not interfere with fiber development, early-season delays in fiber initiation and elongation may be counteracted by an extension of the elongation period .

    Variations in fiber length and the elongation period also were associated with relative heat-unit accumulations. Regression analyses showed that genotypes that produced longer fibers were more responsive to heat-unit accumulation levels than were genotypes that produced shorter fibers .  However, the earliness of the genotype was also a factor in the relationship between fiber length (and short-fiber content by weight) and accumulated heat units .  

     As temperature increased, the number of small motes per boll also increased. Fertilization efficiency, which was negatively correlated with small-mote frequency, also decreased. Although fiber length did not change significantly with increasing temperature, the percentage of short-fibers was lower when temperatures were higher. The apparent improvement in fiber length uniformity may be related to increased assimilate availability to the fibers because there were fewer seeds per boll.


    Cotton water relationships and irrigation traditionally have been studied with respect to yield . Fiber length was not affected unless the water deficit was great enough to lower the yield to 700 kg ha-1. Fiber elongation was inhibited when the midday water potential was -2.5 to -2.8 mPa. Occurrence of moisture deficits during the early flowering period did not alter fiber length. However, when drought occurred later in the flowering period, fiber length was decreased .

    Severe water deficits during the fiber elongation stage reduce fiber length ,  apparently due simply to the direct mechanical and physiological processes of cell expansion. However, water availability and the duration and timing of flowering and boll set can result in complex physiological interactions between water deficits and fiber properties including length.


    Changes in the growth environment also alter canopy structure and the photon flux environment within the canopy. For example, loss of leaves and bolls from unfavorable weather (wind, hail), disease, or herbivory and compensatory regrowth can greatly affect both fiber yield and quality . The amount of light within the crop canopy is an important determinant of photosynthetic activity  and, therefore, of the source-to-sink relationships that allocate photoassimilate within the canopy . Eaton and Ergle (1954) observed that reduced-light treatments increased fiber length. Shading during the first 7 d after floral anthesis resulted in a 2% increase in the 2.5% span length .

    Shading (or prolonged periods of cloudy weather) and seasonal shifts in day length also modulate temperature, which modifies fiber properties, including length.

    Commercial cotton genotypes are considered to be day-length neutral with respect to both flowering and fruiting . However, incorporation of day-length data in upland and pima fiber-quality models, based on accumulated heat units, increased the coefficients of determination for the length predictors from 30 to 54% for the upland model and from 44 to 57% for the pima model .

    It was found that the light wavelengths reflected from red and green mulches increased fiber length, even though plants grown under those mulches received less reflected photosynthetic flux than did plants grown with white mulches. The longest fiber was harvested from plants that received the highest far red/red ratios.


    Studies of the mineral nutrition of cotton and the related soil chemistry usually have emphasized increased yield and fruiting efficiency .  More recently, the effects of nutrient stress on boll shedding have been examined .  Also, several mineral-nutrition studies have been extended to include fiber quality .  

   Reports of fiber property trends following nutrient additions are often contradictory due to the interactive effects of genotype, climate, and soil conditions. Potassium added at the rate of 112 kg K ha-1yr-1 did not affect the 2.5% span length , when genotype was a significant factor in determining both 2.5 and 50% span lengths . Genotype was not a significant factor in Acala fiber length, but an additional 480 kg K ha-1yr-1 increased the mean fiber length .  K ha-1yr-1 increased the length uniformity ratio and increased 50%, but not 2.5% span length. Genotype and the interaction, genotype-by-environment, determined the 2.5% span length.

    As mentioned above, fiber length is assumed to be genotype-dependent, but growth-environment fluctuations - both those resulting from seasonal and annual variability in weather conditions and those induced by cultural practices and inputs - modulate the range and mean of the fiber length population at the test sample, bale, and crop levels.
    Quantitation of fiber length is relatively straightforward and reproducible, and fiber length (along with micronaire) is one of the most likely fiber properties to be included when cotton production research is extended beyond yield determinations. Other fiber properties are less readily quantified, and the resulting data are not so easily understood or analyzed statistically. This is particularly true of  fiber-breaking strength, which has become a crucial fiber property due to changes in spinning techniques.


    The inherent breaking strength of individual cotton fibers is considered to be the most important factor in determining the strength of the yarn spun from those fibers . Recent developments in high-speed yarn spinning technology, specifically open-end rotor spinning systems, have shifted the fiber-quality requirements of the textile industry toward higher-strength fibers that can compensate for the decrease in yarn strength associated with open-end rotor spinning techniques.
    Compared with conventional ring spinning, open-end rotor-spun yarn production capacity is five times greater and, consequently, more economical. Rotor-spun yarn is more even than the ring-spun, but is 15 to 20% weaker than ring-spun yarn of the same thickness. Thus, mills using open-end rotor and friction spinning have given improved fiber strength  highest priority. Length and length uniformity, followed by fiber strength and fineness, remain the most important fiber properties in determining ring-spun yarn strength.
    Historically, two instruments have been used to measure fiber tensile strength, the Pressley apparatus and the Stelometer . In both of these flat-bundle methods, a bundle of fibers is combed parallel and secured between two clamps. A force to try to separate the clamps is applied and gradually increased until the fiber bundle breaks. Fiber tensile strength is calculated from the ratio of the breaking load to bundle mass. Due to the natural lack of homogeneity within a population of cotton fibers, bundle fiber selection, bundle construction and, therefore, bundle mass measurements, are subject to considerable experimental error .

    Fiber strength, that is, the force required to break a fiber, varies along the length of the fiber, as does fiber fineness measured as perimeter, diameter, or cross section  Further, the inherent variability within and among cotton fibers ensures that two fiber bundles of the same weight will not contain the same number of fibers. Also, the within-sample variability guarantees that the clamps of the strength testing apparatus will not grasp the various fibers in the bundle at precisely equivalent positions along the lengths. Thus, a normalizing length-weight factor is included in bundle strength calculations.

    In the textile literature, fiber strength is reported as breaking tenacity or grams of breaking load per tex, where tex is the fiber linear density in grams per kilometer . Both Pressley and stelometer breaking tenacities are reported as 1/8 in. gauge tests, the 1/8 in. (or 3.2 mm) referring to the distance between the two Pressley clamps. Flat-bundle measurements of fiber strength are considered satisfactory for acceptance testing and for research studies of the influence of genotype, environment, and processing on fiber (bundle) strength and elongation.

    The relationships between fiber strength and elongation and processing success also have been examined using flat-bundle strength testing methods . However cotton fiber testing today requires that procedures be rapid, reproducible, automated, and without significant operator bias.  Consequently, the HVI systems used for length measurements in USDA-AMS classing offices are also used to measure the breaking strength of the same fiber bundles (beards) formed during length measurement.

 Originally, HVI strength tests were calibrated against the 1/8-in. gauge Pressley measurement, but the bundle-strengths of reference cottons are now established by Stelometer tests that also provide bundle elongation-percent data. Fiber bundle elongation is measured directly from the displacement of the jaws during the bundle-breaking process, and the fiber bundle strength and elongation data usually are reported together (ASTM, 1994, D 4604-86). The HVI bundle-strength measurements are reported in grams-force tex-1 and can range from 30 and above (very strong) to 20 or below (very weak). In agronomic papers, fiber strengths are normally reported as kN m kg-1, where one Newton equals 9.81 kg-force .

   The HVI bundle-strength and elongation-percent testing methods are satisfactory for acceptance testing and research studies when 3.0 to 3.3 g of blended fibers are available and the relative humidity of the testing room is adequately controlled. A 1% increase in relative humidity and the accompanying increase in fiber moisture content will increase the strength value by 0.2 to 0.3 g tex-1, depending on the fiber genotype and maturity.

    Further, classing-office HVI measurements of fiber strength do not adequately describe the variations of fiber strength along the length of the individual fibers or within the test bundle. Thus, predictions of yarn strength based on HVI bundle-strength data can be inadequate and misleading . The problem of fiber-strength variability is being addressed by improved HVI calibration methods  and by computer simulations of bundle-break tests in which the simulations are based on large single-fiber strength databases of more than 20 000 single fiber long-elongation curves obtained with MANTIS .

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