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Cotton

Cotton

Cotton discovered by chance by an Indian, intrigued by branches filled with very soft white flakes, cotton has been cultivated for millennia. Alexander the Great quickly understood the interest of this plant, noticing the quality of the clothes made with cotton fiber.

They were lighter and finer than his, linen and wool. He brought seeds back to Greece to plant them, but the harvests were not abundant and the cultivation of cotton was abandoned. It will be necessary to wait for the Crusades to see the return of cotton in Europe.

During all this time, Egypt and Algeria cultivate, weave the “El Kutun”. Archaeologists have found fragments of very old fabrics that date cotton cultivation back to more than 3,000 years ago in India.

The invention of spinning and weaving machines by the English made cotton canvas very fashionable in the 18th century. The demand being greater than the supply of cotton from India, the English developed production, planting cotton fields in their American colonies, south of the 37th parallel.

The direct consequence of this culture was the slavery of Africans. After the Civil War in the United States and the end of slavery, England imported cotton from its two colonies: Egypt and India.

For its part, the textile industry developed in France, which in turn launched the cultivation of cotton in its African colonies. The evolution of cotton cultivation was such that at the end of the 19th century, the planet was already covered with the famous soft white flakes. The textile industry was booming.

A production line

Cotton has now become a source of speculation. 35 million hectares are cultivated in 90 countries between the 37th parallel north and the 32nd parallel south. Its culture is present on five continents.

The main world producers are China, the USA, India and Pakistan (70% of production), as well as Brazil, West Africa, Uzbekistan and Turkey.

A culture

Cotton cultivation has several advantages. On the one hand, it consumes relatively little water (75 cm of rain or irrigation). It requires a lot of heat and light for its flowering. From the Malvaceae family, the different cottons are distinguished from each other:

Gossypium Herbaceum or “Indian cotton”: the fibers are short and thick

Gossypium barbadense: Originally from Peru, they represent 6% of world production. Their cultivation, introduced in Egypt, produces, in particular with the “Jumel” quality, one of the most beautiful cottons in the world, for the length and fineness of their fibers.

Gossypium Hirsutum: Originally from South America, this cotton represents 85% of world production.

On the other hand, nothing is lost in the cotton plant. It is therefore a very profitable plant naturally. Cotton is the fiber that covers the seed of the fruit of the cotton plant. The latter is a capsule the size of a walnut that contains 20 to 45 seeds covered with hairs; cotton fibers.

The fibers are used to make cotton fabrics (for clothing, household linen), medical compresses, special papers (such as banknotes). They are also used in the composition of cosmetic and food products.  The seeds are rich in protein and allow the manufacture of vegetable oil, soaps, fertilizers, insecticides, synthetic rubber

Cotton cultivation is a safe bet for the economy. However, its intensive production pushes some producers to use pesticides on a massive scale, considerably increasing water requirements.

This is the case with the USA, Brazil and China. Chemical fertilizers and GMOs are favored to the detriment of the natural. Harvesting is mechanized on huge plots. This monoculture, in the race for yield, depletes the soil.

In Africa, Uzbekistan and India, cotton is grown on smaller plots. Harvesting is traditionally done by hand. But pesticides and chemical fertilizers are also present.

For centuries, cotton cultivation has evolved to adapt to demand. Plus de Coton has chosen to refuse this policy of despoliation of the land. Cotton is a raw material that does not require more than it needs. Only organic cultivation respects nature and preserves the exceptional qualities of natural cotton fiber.

Organic cotton producers mark their difference with mass cultivation by refusing pesticides and limiting mechanization to favor harvesting by hand.

This awareness, supported by brands like Plus  Cotton, helps preserve nature, and conscientious producers of Cotton is committed to promoting them through its creations.

 COTTON QUALITY

To judge the quality of cotton leaving the factory, three criteria must be taken into account:

The length of the fibre: it varies between 1 and 4 cm depending on the species. The longer the cotton fibres, the more they guarantee good characteristics and the easier they are to transform into cotton yarn.

Egypt produces the longest fibers reaching more than 3.2 cm and which are called long silk or long fibers. Egyptian cotton is considered the best cotton produced in the world. The color of cotton varies from white to yellowish.

The whiter the cotton, the easier it will be to completely bleach it for dyeing or printing. The whiter the cotton, the more sought after it is. The cleanliness of the fibers is also a quality criterion. A clean fiber is a fiber rid of its impurities.

CHARACTERISTICS OF COTTON

You should know that cotton is hydrophilic, that is to say that it absorbs water easily. It therefore takes longer to dry and iron than other fabrics. However, its comfort is excellent: warm and soft to the touch, it is also easily wrinkled.

You should know that in a normal atmosphere, cotton has no predisposition to static electricity. Its low abrasion resistance and poor dimensional stability are its weaknesses. However, it is also vulnerable to attack by microorganisms.

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