Cotton - History, Growing & Uses of CottonWhat is the history of Cotton?
The oldest cotton fibers and boll fragments were discovered in Mexico dated from around 5000 B.C. Cotton has been worn by people in India and Egypt for more than 5000 years. Native Americans grew cotton as early as 1500. The cotton industry flourished in the United States in the 1700's. It was then that Samuel Slater, an Englishman, built the first American cotton mill. These mills converted cotton fibers into yarn and cloth. In 1793, Eli Whitney developed the cotton gin, which mechanically separated the seed from the lint fiber. Eli Whitney named his machine a "gin," short for the word "engine" that could do the work 10 times faster than by hand. Technology has improved over the past centuries making cotton growth and production much more efficient.
Where does cotton grow??
Cotton is grown in several countries including USA, China, India, Pakistan, Brazil, Uzbekistan, Turkey, Greece, Australia and many other countries around the world. Cotton is a major cash crop in USA, ranking just behind corn, soybeans, wheat and hay. Cotton grows in USA in 17 states called the Cotton Belt.
How cotton grows?
Cotton grows best on fertile, well drained soils. There are many species of cotton, but the most popular ones grown in USA are Upland Cotton (Gossypium hirsutum) followed by Pima Cotton (Gossypium barbadense). In Southeast Asia, the Asiatic Cotton (Gossypium herbaceum and Gossypium arboreum) is grown in some regions. Today, USA produces approximately 18 million bales of cotton annually from 11 million acres planted. The largest cotton producing states are Texas, Mississippi, and Georgia. Arizona and California are well-known for their Pima cotton, which is a finer, more expensive cotton fiber with greater staple length.
Cotton is planted in spring when temperatures are above 60 degrees Fahrenheit. Seeds germinate in 7-10 days. The bud, also known as a "square," appears about five to seven weeks after planting which forms flowers. The creamy-white blossoms become pollinated, turn light pink and then wither producing green bolls. The green bolls mature into cotton bolls with the white fluffy fibers. Plants are irrigated, fertilized and weeded, as needed, during the growing cycle.
Cotton is defoliated a process in which the leaves are removed and then cotton harvested and compressed into truckload sized "modules" and sent to cotton gins. The gin separates the cotton fibers from the seeds. Saw gin is mainly used to process Upland cotton and roller gin is used for Pima cotton. Gins separate the seed from the cotton; while the lint is packed into 500 lb bales and sent out to textile mills to make yarn. A standard bale of cotton is 55" tall, 28" wide and 21" thick. The cotton is carded or combed, making all of the fibers run parallel, and then spun into thread. The cottonseed at the gin is used as animal feed or garden fertilizer. The oil extracted from cottonseed is used in firearm and pharmaceutical industries.
What are the uses of cotton?
Cotton comes in many varieties and qualities, each suitable for different purposes. The long lint fibers are used for many things, most of which begin with a thread, yarn or cotton fabric. Clothing and bedding items are common products. The smaller cotton fibers, known as linters, are removed from the seed and are used as stuffing for furniture and components of linoleum, plastics and insulation. Cotton seed oil is used in foods and cosmetics. Cotton seed hulls are eaten by cattle.