We’re excited to announce our new series the Life of Cotton. This six part series will take an in-depth look into the lifecycle of the cotton plant, starting with the growing and harvesting process and finishing with final product. Let’s begin by a brief overview of each step:
From California to Virginia, cotton is planted across the southern half of the United States each spring. Heat and water allow the seed to energy from the soil around 10 days after planting. The average growing season is 150 to 160 days from planting until harvest.
The key to harvesting is always about timing. After a few months, in late fall, the cotton is ready for harvest. At this point, the farmer prepares the plant for picking–the cotton fiber is mechanically removed from the stalk with the use of a mechanical cotton picker, then which the cotton is staged in a module for transportation to the gin.
When the cotton arrives at the gin, the process of removing the seed, stalk, stem, leaves, and any other VFM (which is short for visual foreign matter) begins. The fiber is pulled from the seed and then ultimately passing through lint cleaners where smaller, finer particles are removed. Once the cotton is cleaned, it’s pressed into a 500lb block known as a bale.
The fiber bales are blended with each other and opened into small tufts, and those tufts are opened to individual fibers allowing for any icky stuff to be removed. Because cotton naturally possesses oils and waxes, it goes through a kier which rinses it with a gentle hydrogen peroxide, making it the white cotton that we all know and love!
Depending on what the cotton is being used for determines what finish it gets; and there are hundreds of possible finishes! Processing can also make the purified cotton fiber more durable or flame-resistant, among other properties.
Cotton can be found in a variety of products: feminine hygiene (tampons, pads, and panty liners), disposable baby and adult diapers disposable wipes (wet and dry), medical products, and even cotton balls and swabs.
Over the coming months, we will be visiting each stage in depth, so stick around to learn more about this one-of-a-kind process!