Cotton and its Various Uses

You must have used cotton many times for various purposes. Have you ever thought about how old cotton is? Well actually no one knows how old cotton is. Scientists got cotton seeds dating back to 450BC in Peru. In 1929 archaeologists found cotton threads at Mohenjo-Daro dating 3250 and 2750 BCE. According to the archaeologist’s farmers in the Indus Valley were the 1st to spin and weave cotton.  

Cotton fibres are very useful due to its soft texture and high absorbent power. It is a natural fibre made up of cellulose. Egyptian, Pima and Sea island cotton fibres are the longest cotton fibres grown with average length of 1.7 inches. 

The word cotton has taken from Arabic word qutn which means soft. You will be amazed to know that cotton plants do not produce any waste; it means that all parts of the cotton plant are useful. 

Cotton Crop in India-

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Cotton is the most important fibre crop in India because of its variety of uses in all fields. Cotton crop is kharif crop which requires approximately 8 months to mature. Although in Tamil Nadu, cotton is grown as a kharif crop and rabi crop as well. In Punjab and Haryana, it is sown in April-May and harvested in December- January. Cotton cultivation in India has been done since ages. Even Vedic scriptures of India written in 1500-1200 BCE talk about cotton cultivation, cotton spinning and weaving. India used to dominate the cotton industry in the 18th century which was taken over by British and industrial revolution. Cotton has a great impact on Indian history. Afterall how can we forget Gandhi’s spinning wheel? 


About cotton cultivation-

Highest cotton producing state of India is Gujarat. Apart from Gujarat, Punjab, Rajasthan, Tamil Nadu, Madhya Pradesh are main producers of cotton. Black clay soil and 25℃ temperature is perfect for cotton production. For cotton cultivation first soil is prepared to sow the seeds. Crop rotation is essential for cotton crops. As continuous production of cotton causes lack of nutrients in soil and pest and disease problems. Application of N,P,K and other nutrients in soil is important for a good cotton crop. In the end harvesting and yield of cotton involves following steps – 

1. Ginning – The process of removing seeds from cotton pods is called ginning. Ginning can be done by using hands or machines. 

2. Spinning – The process of changing cotton fibre into cotton yarn is called spinning. This is done by passing cotton fibres through the carding machine which separates the fibres. 

3. Weaving – The process of making a fabric by joining two or more than two sets of cotton yarn together is called weaving. 

Types of Cotton in India 

There are four commercially grown species of cotton – 

1. Gossypium hirsutum – It is the most widely planted species of cotton in the world. Cultivation of this species was started in 3500 BC. It is mainly used as cotton fabric. 

2. Gossypium barbadense – It is also known as an extra long staple of cotton. It yields cotton with long and silky fibres. 

3. Gossypium arboreum – It includes less 2% of the world cotton production. It is commonly known as tree cotton. This species of cotton is native to India and Pakistan. We find it’s traces in Harappan civilization of the Indus Valley. 

4. Gossypium herbaceum – It also includes less than 2% of the cotton production in the world. It is commonly known as levant cotton. Its main use is in textile. 

Uses of Cotton-

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Uses of cotton fibres are because of its specific characteristics such as cotton fibres are soft, cool, breathable, very good absorbent etc. few uses of cotton fibres are listed below–

  • It is widely used in the textile industry. Uses of cotton fabric involves every type of clothing from jackets to normal shirts. 

  • It is largely used in the medical field. It is known to be used after birth to remove placenta. 

  • Cotton plant is used in menstrual cycle pain and for irregular periods. 

  • Cotton is used in making sanitary pads and diapers. 

  • Levant cotton seeds are used as food and for oil extraction. 

  • It is used in making bed sheets. 

  • It is used in coffee filters. 

  • It is used in making highly absorbent cloths for cleaning purposes.

  • Cotton plants are used to feed cattle. 

  • Cotton fibre is used in making cords and ropes.

  • It is used in making cord for car tyres, plastic reinforcing. 

  • Cotton seed is used in plastics, explosives, high quality paper, cushions, flat panel television screens.

  • It is used in computer chip boards as well.

  • Cotton seed oil is used in margarine, salad dressing, in manufacturing of candles, soaps and detergents, artificial leather etc. 

  • Fibre from stalks is used for pressed paper and cardboard.