How is cotton made?
The nomenclature of cotton categories it into the family Malvacae and genus Gossypium. Cotton grows in the tropics and subtropics region having a warm and humid climate. Cotton cultivation requires about 4 inches of water during the active growing period.
The steps in cotton processing are as follows:
It takes about 100 days for the cotton plant to blossom and on the first day it appears to have white or creamy colour and turns lavender or pink colour by the second day. After which the petals fall off and the seed pod is clearly visible within two days. Within the span of next 50-70 days, the seed pod bursts open and the cotton fleece can be seen.
• Harvesting and Picking:
This step involves picking up mature cotton fleece. This process can be carried out manually or mechanically. In the case of manual picking, better quality is obtained but the cost of such cotton is high since it is a labour-intensive task. However, in the case of mechanical picking, a machine pulls the fibers from the open bolls. Also, these balls are first sprayed with a defoliant to ensure that plants no longer have leaves as the machine might pull fibers along with leaves.
The cotton is then dried in warm air after harvesting.
It is a process of separating the fibers from the seed. A ginning machine takes about an hour to gin raw cotton weighing 500 pounds and thus produce 60 raw cotton bales. The automated ginning machine also has the ability to remove foreign matter such as leaves, twigs and dirt which may be left otherwise. The ginned cotton is then compressed into bales. The seeds so collected are utilized in the manufacturing of cottonseed oil, and the residue used as fodder.
• Yarn and Fabric Production:
The bales or fiber package are then spun into yarns and finally woven or knitted into the fabric.