Where Quality Starts
Why is Supima cotton a premium cotton?
Pima accounts for only three percent of annual cotton production in the United
States. Its fineness and longer staple length makes Pima a premium cotton fiber. It
is used to spin finer count yarns, which can be knitted or woven into softer, finer
and more luxurious fabrics. It is grown in select areas of the far West and
Southwest U.S. where the cotton can benefit from a long growing season in a hot,
dry climate. Pima cotton is grown almost exclusively on furrowed rows where
growers can closely regulate irrigation and other inputs. Its production costs can
vary in different states and regions, but it generally runs about the same as upland
cotton costs in the same area. Ginning is more expensive because Pima cotton is
roller-ginned, not saw-ginned like upland cotton. Pima is grown in Arizona,
California, New Mexico and Texas.
What is Pima cotton?
Pima cotton is a generic name for extra-long staple (ELS) cotton grown in the
U.S., Australia, Peru and in very limited production in a few other locations
around the world. Pima is from the gossypium barbadense species, compared
to gossypium hirsutum to which upland cotton belongs. The primary differences
between Pima (ELS growths) cotton and upland cotton are staple length and
strength. In the U.S., cotton is considered to be ELS or Pima if it is an inch and
3/8 or longer. Its strength and uniformity measurements are also considerably
higher than those of upland cotton.
USDA's U.S. Pima Production
2001/02 U.S. Pima Production
Harvested Acres Average Yield Production
States 2000 2001 2000 2001 2000 2001
Arizona 4,900 7,500 705 928 7,200 14,600
New Mexico 4,100 5,200 539 969 4,600 103,050
Texas 16,000 16,500 930 969 31,000 33,750
California 144,000 239,000 1,154 1,283 346,300 638,750
Totals 169,000 268,200 1,105 1,254 389,100 700,150
Production listed in 480-lb. bales
Estimate released May 10, 2002
Note - The above data is from the Supima Association web site : www.supimacotton.com
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Cotton Laydown Opening, Blending, and Cleaning
• The cotton fibers must be opened, blended, and cleaned.
• Bales of cotton are configured in a way for consistent characteristics of the cotton
fiber. Unfortunately, nature does the grow the fibers same way every time. There
are variabilities in fiber-to-fiber, bale-to-bale, and field-to-field.
• To reduce these varabilities, special procedures and equipment are needed.
• The pictures above displays the equipment typically used in cotton bale opening,
blending, and cleaning.
• The picture (1) shows how the cotton is introduced into the process. The bales are
laid down in a particular mix and configuration.
• Picture (2) shows the equipment which will further open, blend, and clean the
• Once the cotton fibers have been processed through the opening, blending, and cleaning
equipment, the cotton fibers are individually cleaned, aligned, and formed into a card
sliver with a certain weight per unit length.
• Picture (3) displays the “carding” equipment used for this process.
• The cotton fibers will be transformed into various shapes, sizes, and weights through out
the fiber to yarn process.
• Picture (4) shows the next step in the process which is called “Pre-Drawing.” The
purpose of this process is to further align the cotton fibers and to blend the slivers into a
more consistent specified weight and length.
• The next step in the process is to further blend and align the cotton sliver from “Pre-
Drawing” and convert the product into a package which can be presented to the
• This process is called “Lapwinding.” Picture (5) shows an example of the product
which is produced at “Lapwinding.”
• Picture (6) is a comber with the laps mounted above. On this particular machine, eight
laps are introduced to the combing process.
• Without this process, no cotton yarn can be considered “combed.”
• The combing equipment will actually comb the shorter fibers and remaining organic leaf
and stems particles (pepper trash) from the cotton fiber bundle presented to the comber
in a lap form.
• The comber will transform the 8 laps back to a sliver with a specific weight per length
parameter. This allows for additional blending (8 laps to on sliver).
• The product produced from this process is brighter, softer, and more delicate.
• The next step is to blend and align the the combed cotton sliver in the process called
“Finished Drawing.” In the picture (7) you can see where a certain number of cans are
placed behind the machine. Out the front, the product is one sliver which weighs a
specified weight per unit length.
• This is the most critical process by which the consistency of the yarn weight (Yarn
Count) is determined. Now you know why there is so much blending in the processes
leading up to this point.
• The next picture (8)is that of a “Roving Machine.” Its purpose is to transform the
“Finished Cotton Sliver” into a product which can be presented to the “Ring Spinning”
machine. This product is called “Roving.” The “Roving” has certain weight per unit
length parameter as well.
Ring Spinning Aisle Ring Spinning Drafting System
• Picture (9) displays a Ring Spinning alley. Here you can see the Roving hung above the
machine and processed into yarn.
• The Roving is drafted (stretched) by a series of rolls. Each roll rotates at a different
“rpm” ( one faster than the previous). This increasing speed of the rolls creates a
drafting effect which reduces the weight of the roving (weight per unit length) to the
approximate target weight of the yarn.
• Twist is inserted on the fiber bundle at the time that it exits the last roller. The amount
of twist inserted is determined by by various factors. Those factors are runability of the
yarn in Spinning, runability of the yarn in the subsequent process, fabric strength
required, and “look and feel” of fabric ( knitted or woven) which customer is trying to
• Picture (10) shows the drafting system (rolls) by which the roving weight is reduced to
the desire yarn weight.
Spinning Bobbins Winder
• Once the yarn has been formed by adding twist, it is wound onto a bobbin for further
processing. Picture (11) shows this product prior to transporting it to the “Winder.”
• The ring spinning machine fills the bobbin with yarn. The yarn on the bobbin is still not
suitable for knitting or weaving. This bobbin yarn must be transformed to a cone of
yarn which has much more length wound onto it than the bobbin.
• The next process is “Winding.” Winding takes the bobbins from the ring spinning
machine and winds it to a cone. You can see this cone being formed on the winder
machine by looking at the yellow arrow.
• The yarn which is wound on the cone at the winder is cleared of major defects. These
defects are in the form of “thick and thin” places along the yarn. We remove these
defects so as to not create an objectionable defect in the fabric. The device which clear
the defects cannot cut out every “thick or thin” place in the yarn. We controll the size
and length of the defect to cut out.
• Lastly, the finished cones are packed or placed in a container which is suitable for the
• There are various packing methods. The two most common are the cardboard cases and
• The package type is determined whether the customer shipment is local or international,
the amount of space available at the knitting or weaving site, and optimization of the
To Cotton To Bale To Sliver
To Roving To Yarn To Yarn Cone Woven or Knitted
Just the beginning…..
• The process of converting cotton fibers into yarns is more complicated than it may
appear. The spinner must buy his cotton very selectively based on his market.
• The quality of the yarn is directly proportionate to the fiber quality. Much like any other
product, the raw material used determines the quality of the final product. The raw
materials is usually the most expensive component of any product.
• Attention to details and a passion for making the best quality yarns is the secret to being
successful in a competitive market.
• Now that you have the best quality yarn available in the market, our customers can focus
on making the best quality fabric in the market.
• The story continues …..