By Keith Lucas, (AMCOT) and Chairman of Cotton Council International
Producing and delivering quality fiber is the U.S. cotton industry’s highest priority. We aim to deliver exactly what you order every single time. High quality cotton fiber does not happen by chance. Both quality and yield are greatly influenced by a producer’s seed selection, as well as cotton production, harvesting, and ginning practices. This commitment to quality is why we created a special “Quality Task Force” many years ago.
The Mission of the Task Force
The Quality Task Force meets regularly to discuss a wide range of topics, including improvements in fiber quality measurement, fiber quality preservation, loan premiums and discounts and more. It is comprised of industry leaders from every segment—from cotton producers and ginners to fiber merchants and marketing cooperative officials and textile manufacturers. The mission of the task force’s is simple: contamination-free U.S cotton in order to increase the efficient use and performance in the textile mill. However, simple does not mean easy. It means diligent enhancement of best-in-class seed, production, harvesting and ginning. And, our mission is driven by our strong belief that consistent, high quality is what sets U.S. cotton apart from other cotton growths.
The U.S. Cotton Difference
Much time and resources are put toward to maximizing fiber quality, and we pride ourselves in our ongoing efforts to improve our fiber’s quality characteristics of strength, length and uniformity. It starts with the producer’s seed selection and extends through the growing season, as well as during harvesting and ginning. The United States is the world’s largest breeding ground for new cottonseed innovation. We collaborate with scientists from universities, private enterprise and the U.S. cotton industry on the development of and testing of new seed varieties.
During the harvest, U.S. cotton producers focus on removing the open white bolls from the plant at their peak of maturity, quickly getting the seed cotton from the field to a gin and then the resulting ginned lint into a well-protected bale. This ensures preservation of the fiber’s quality for textile manufacturing customers. And the gin’s electronic control systems monitor moisture, color, air and material flow to improve productivity and fiber quality.
Quality In, Quality Out
The U.S. cotton industry works to grow the highest quality, cleanest fiber in the world in the most sustainable manner. And our assessment of the 2016 U.S. cotton crop showed that our task force is having an impact in five keys ways:
- 90 percent of U.S. crop had color of 41 or better and 71 percent had a color of 31 or better.
- U.S. cotton had 18 percent fewer non-repairable defects than other cottons. Because U.S. cotton is cleaner, spinning efficiency has improved by three percent, which saves money on cleaning costs.
- The average staple for upland cotton in the United States was 36.3 -- a new U.S. record.
- Average length uniformity for the 2016 crop was 81.3 while 76.3 percent of the 2016 crop had a uniformity index of 80.3 or higher.
- There was a significant increase in cotton considered high quality across all U.S. growing regions. That is 31 color with a 3 leaf, 35 with a 3.5-4.9 mic with no extraneous matter.
The bottom line is that the U.S. cotton industry is proud of the progress that we have made and that we are setting the bar for higher standards. You have our pledge to continuously produce the longest, strongest, most uniform and sustainable fiber every day!