Gossypium barbadense, also known as extra-long staple (ELS) cotton, is a species of cotton plant that has been cultivated to have ELS fibres – fibres longer than 34 millimetres (1 3⁄8 in) – which are associated with high quality cotton cloth.
The species is a tropical, frost-sensitive perennial that produces yellow flowers and has black seeds. It grows as a small, bushy tree and yields cotton with unusually long, silky fibers. To grow, it requires full sun and high humidity and rainfall. This plant contains the chemical gossypol, which reduces its susceptibility to insect and fungal damage.
ELS cotton is commonly sold as Pima or Egyptian cotton. However, only a small amount of Egyptian cotton produced each year is actually ELS cotton. The Pima name label has been adopted by ELS producers in places such as Australia, Peru, and Israel.
The name Pima was applied in honor of the Pima Indians, who helped raise the cotton on USDA experimental farms in Arizona in the early 1900s. The first clear sign of domestication of this cotton species comes from the Early Valdivia phase site of Real Alto on the coast of Ecuador (4400 BCE; calibrated radiocarbon dates) and from Ancon, on the Peruvian coast, where cotton bolls dating to 4200 BCE were found.
According to other accounts, Real Alto cotton is dated to 3500–3000 BCE (uncalibrated radiocarbon years), and the oldest coastal Peru cotton is dated 2500 BCE.
By 1000 BCE, Peruvian cotton bolls were indistinguishable from modern cultivars of G. barbadense. Native Americans grew cotton widely throughout South America and in the West Indies, where Christopher Columbus encountered it. English colonists established cotton in the West Indies as a commercial plantation crop tended by enslaved workers imported from West Africa. By the 1650s, Barbados had become the first British West Indies colony to export cotton to England and Europe.
Sea Island cotton
What was called Sea Island cotton was cultivated on the Sea Islands, along the coasts of South Carolina and Georgia, especially by the late 18th century. Sea Island cotton commanded the highest price of all the cottons, due to its long staple (1.5 to 2.5 inches, 35 to 60 mm) and its silky texture; it was used for the finest cotton counts and often mixed with silk.
Although planters tried to grow it on the uplands of Georgia, the quality was inferior, and it was too expensive to process. The invention of the cotton gin by the end of the 18th century utterly changed the production of cotton as a commodity crop. It made processing of short-staple cotton profitable. This cotton, known as upland cotton (Gossypium hirsutum), could be grown successfully in the interior uplands. Short-staple cotton became the prime commodity crop of the developing Deep South, and King Cotton was the basis of southern wealth in the antebellum years. This cotton in the early 21st century represents about 95% of U.S. production.
Among the earliest planters of Sea Island cotton in North America was an Englishman, Francis Levett. Other cotton planters came from Barbados. At the outbreak of the American Revolution, Levett left his Georgia plantation and went to the Bahamas. He attempted to introduce cotton production, but failed. Sugar cane had been a more important commodity crop.
United States agricultural policy
American Pima accounts for less than 5% of U.S. cotton production. It is grown chiefly in California, with small acreages in West Texas, New Mexico and Arizona.
For purposes of federal support, the 2002 farm bill (P.L. 101-171, Sec. 1001) defined ELS cotton.
ELS cotton is eligible for marketing assistance loans and loan deficiency payments (LDPs). The national loan rate for ELS cotton under the 2002 farm bill was $0.7977 per pound. ELS cotton, in contrast to upland cotton, does not qualify for direct payments or counter-cyclical payments.
- "7 USC 7202 – Sec. 7202. Definitions". vLex. Archived from the original on February 11, 2012. Retrieved November 20, 2011.
The term "extra long staple cotton" means cotton ... that is produced from pure strain varieties of the Barbadense species or any hybrid thereof, or other similar types of extra long staple cotton.
- Goggin, Brian (December 1991). "Extra-long staple cotton report – production and export statistics for marketing year 1989/90-1991/92 including USSR, Egypt, Israel, Peru and Sudan; U.S. pima cotton production and export statistics". U.S. Dept. of Agriculture, Foreign Agricultural Service report. Archived from the original on December 10, 2007. Retrieved November 20, 2011.
- Liu, Xia; et al. (2015), "Gossypium barbadense genome sequence provides insight into the evolution of extra-long staple fiber and specialized metabolites", Scientific Reports, Article number: 14139, 5: 14139, doi:10.1038/srep14139, PMC 4588572, PMID 26420475
- Extra Long Staple Cotton
- Womach, Jasper (ed.). "Agriculture: A Glossary of Terms, Programs, and Laws, 2005 Edition, Order Code 97-905" (PDF). Congressional Research Service – The Library of Congress. Archived from the original (PDF) on September 23, 2013. Retrieved September 21, 2013.
- Damp, J. E.; Pearsall, D. M. (1994). "Early cotton from coastal Ecuador". Economic Botany. 48 (2): 163–165. doi:10.1007/BF02908209.
- Sauer, J.D. (1993). Historical Geography of Crop Plants: a Select Roster. Boca Raton, Florida: CRC Press. ISBN 0-8493-8901-1.
- Ecroyd, S., ed. (1910). Cotton Year Book 1910. The Textile Mercury. pp. 12–13.
- Media related to Gossypium barbadense at Wikimedia Commons
- Data related to Gossypium barbadense at Wikispecies
- Cotton Botany at Cotton Inc.
- History of Sea Island Cotton, West Indian Sea Island Cotton Association (WISICA)
- Organization of American Pima Cotton Growers
- EGYPTIAN COTTON.; Its Modern Origin and the Importance of the Supply
- Extra-long staple cotton vs. Egyptian cotton and standard cotton