Cotton Cultivation

Dhristi JEE 2022-24

An Overview

Cotton is considered to be a soft fluffy staple fibre that is grown in the form of a ball or we can say that it has a protective case around the seed. If we talk about cotton from a biological point of view then it belongs to the genus Gossypium and its family is Malvaxeae. Cotton fibre is really important for the economic growth of a country. This is because it is not a food crop but a commercial crop that is purely grown with the motive of making more money.

The cotton plant is basically a shrub that belongs to the subtropical and tropical regions all around the world. The cotton ball has surrounded the seed and whenever the favourable condition will occur, this cotton ball is going to spread the seeds for the process of cultivation or growing.

The main region where you can find the cotton crop is Egypt, America, Africa and India. If we talk about the use of this cotton fibre then, mostly the fibre is spun around a wheel and then it forms the thread. The thread thus formed is used to make clothes from this fibre or thread. In the clothing world, cotton is the most widely used fibre. Currently, the world produces nearly 25 million tonnes of cotton every year. This includes 2.5 percent of the arable land. If we talk about the world's largest producer of cotton, then it is India while the world's largest exporter of cotton fibre is America. 

Cotton has mainly commercial uses and it is an important fibre that plays a major role in increasing the economic growth of a country. In this article, you will get knowledge about the cotton fibre, uses of cotton fibres, properties of cotton fibres uses of cotton thread, cotton cultivation and the making of cotton fabric from the cotton fibre that we get and so on. This article is provided to you by Vedantu and will help you to understand the cotton plant in detail.

Cotton and Its Various Uses

Fibres are thin strands that are used for making fabrics. Fibres are of two types as follows-

Natural Fibres

Natural fibres are those fibres that are obtained from nature. These fibres are again of two types-

  • Plant Fibres- Plant fibres are obtained from plants. For example - cotton fibres are obtained from the flowers of the cotton plant and jute fibres are obtained from the stem of the jute plant.

  • Animal Fibres- Animal fibres are natural fibres that are obtained from animals. For example - silk fibre is obtained from the cocoon of the silk moth and wool is obtained from the hairs of sheep.

Synthetic fibres

Talking about synthetic fibres, they are those which are synthesised by man chemically. These fibres are just opposite to the natural fibres that are extracted from the plants. Rayon, nylon are some examples of these fibres. They are opposite to the natural fibres and thus, are not from natural resources. Therefore, as compared to the natural fibres, they will be less costly but not as good in quality as the cotton fibres or other natural fibres.

Cotton is a widely used natural fibre and is used for a variety of purposes.

Cotton Cultivation

Cotton is a cash crop and is grown intensively by the farmers. Cotton plants are cultivated all over the world. It is best grown in black soil. Cotton is best grown in soil which has a very high water holding capacity so black clayey soil is the best suited for growing cotton. In India, it is cultivated in states like Maharashtra and Gujarat in the majority. 

In other states like Madhya Pradesh, Punjab, Tamilnadu, Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh, Rajasthan, etc cotton cultivation is also carried out. When it comes to climate, cotton grows best in a warm or slightly hot climate. Cotton also requires a lot of water for its irrigation.

Uses of the Cotton Plant

The cotton plant has several uses which makes it an important crop that supports the industrial development and the agricultural development of a country. Some of the uses of cotton are-

  • Cotton fibres are used to make cotton fabrics that can be used to make clothing ranging from undergarments to jackets to kurtas, shirts, and many more.

  • Cotton fabrics are also used to make curtains, bedsheets, pillow covers, dining clothes, towels, etc. People prefer cotton materials because of its comfort and durability.

  • Stock feeding - cotton seeds that are removed from the cotton balls during the process of ginning are used for feeding the cattle and other domestic animals.

  • To make rubber and plastics cotton is used. Thus besides the clothing industry cotton is supporting other industries also.

  • In the making of soaps and cosmetics also cotton is used. Cottonseed oil is nowadays used for cooking food and is being used by various restaurants as this oil is cheaper than other oils.

Uses of Cotton Fabric

Cotton fabrics are used for various purposes other than making clothes and garments. Some of the uses are mentioned below-

  • Cotton fabrics are used as strainer while making paneer, sweet dish rasgulla, etc.

  • Cotton fabrics are used to make face masks.

  • Cotton fabrics are used to make tea bags.

  • Cotton is also used to make semi-synthetic fabrics.

Cotton Properties

People always prefer cotton over other fabrics. This is due to the properties of cotton. Some of these are mentioned below-

  • Cotton is porous which makes it breathable. The pores are very small and of desirable size.

  • Cotton fabrics do not cause itching and are comfortable for the skin.

  • Cotton clothes cause cooling in summer as cotton allows the sweat to evaporate easily.

  • Cotton fibre has the ability to control moisture, insulation is the property and along with it, provide immense comfort. Thus, we wear it especially at the time of summer.

  • It doesn't show up with perspiration like other fibres such as synthetic and this is the reason that it is the most used fibre.

Making of Cotton Fabric from Cotton Fibre

Cotton bolls obtained from the cotton plants undergo a lot of processes to become a fibre. These processes indeed take a little time and only then, a good fibre is formed. The major steps are mentioned below

  • Ginning- It is the process of removal of the cotton seeds from the cotton bolls using big combs. This straightens the whole bunch of cotton fibres also.

  • Spinning- The fibres are spun continuously to make yarn from the fibres obtained. For spinning, today machines are used for spinning. But it can be done using charkha or takli.

  • Weaving- Now when the yarn is made from fibre this yarn is used to make the fabric or the cotton cloth. Weaving is done using traditional machines or modernised machines.

  • Dyeing- Once the cotton cloth is made it is dyed into several colours for the sake of variety. These cotton fabrics can be used for various purposes like making clothes like kurta, salwar, saree, etc.

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FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions)

1. Explain how cotton is obtained from the cotton plant?

Cotton is a plant fibre and is obtained from the flower of the cotton plant. Thus cotton is a natural fibre. Cotton seeds are sown around April or in mid-May of the year. Various points are needed to be taken care of while sowing the cotton-like spacing between the seeds, direction of the seeds while sowing, depth of sowing seeds and preparation of the soil, etc. When the cotton plants are mature and develop large flowers known as cotton bolls then these flowers are harvested.  The bad or infected flowers are kept away from healthy flowers. These flowers are taken to the factory/industry.

2. Explain how woolen clothes are made?

Wool is also a natural fibre just like cotton. The difference is cotton is a plant fibre whereas wool is an animal fibre and is obtained from sheep or other animals like camel, yak, etc. The process of obtaining woollen fibre from sheep is mentioned below-

  • Shearing- This process involves cutting the hair of sheep using a blade. This process is usually done in the summer season so that sheep may not feel cold. Their hairs reappear in a few weeks. This process does not harm the sheep.
  • Scouring- This process refers to the washing of the hairs and removing dirt from them. 
  • Sorting- This process involves separating the hair of different sizes.
  • Dyeing and Rolling- After the yarns are made they are dyed and rolled.
  • Knitting- The woollen yarns are woven into different clothes like sweaters by hands or machines.

3. Mention some manuals of cotton.

Cotton finds its use in a number of fields. Some of them are entitled below:

  • For most types of clothing, cotton fibers are used whether it is a simple pair of shorts or a jacket.

  • They are used in daily life such as in curtains, bedsheets, etc.

  • In many cosmetics, oil is widely used.

  • If you talk about coffee filters, they also find their use.

  • The seeds of cotton are crushed to make oil from it and even in some cases, it is fed to the cattle.

  • Sometimes for decoration of the house, cotton fibers are used such as in mattresses.

4. Can we eat cotton? If not, why?

Although you can use cotton for a number of purposes, it is a fact that you cannot eat cotton plants. The seed of this plant is really poisonous for the human race and can cause serious diseases and ailments. Therefore, you can use cotton for a number of purposes like in mattresses, in clothing, for cleaning purposes, in coffee machines but you cannot eat the cotton plant as it is really poisonous. But for the time being, many scientists are working to make genetically engineered varieties of cotton that are safe for consumption.

5. Why has cotton fabric been so popular among people for ages? Which country is the largest producer and exporter of cotton fibre?

Cotton fabric is indeed famous among the fabrics. You will notice that cotton finds its use in making jackets, shirts, and other clothing materials. It is easy to take care of and is a conformable piece of clothing year-round. When it is summer and we perspire, the cotton fabric acts as an absorbent and absorbs most of the water or sweat and thus, sweat is then transferred to the surface of the fabric which is then evaporated easily in the atmosphere. Cotton is easy to clean and can be dried super quickly. 

India is the world's largest producer of cotton while America is the largest exporter of cotton for ages.