Cotton Breeders Educated in Fiber Quality

Cotton Incorporated hosted its second Fiber Quality Workshop for cotton breeders at the corporate headquarters in Cary, N.C., on June 26-27, 2012. During the two-day event, 54 attendees from the USDA-ARS, several universities, and seed companies were presented with information on the relationship between fiber measurement and textile quality to gain better insight into the needs of textile mills.

Breeder History Highlight

In 1884, Dr. David Thomatis established a plantation in Australia, which he named Caravonica. While Caravonica was originally a banana plantation, Dr. Thomatis became interested in cotton in the early 1900s, when he discovered some self-seeded wild cotton plants descended from unsuccessful plantings in the 1880s by a Chinese farming organization. Dr. Thomatis crossed the wild cotton plants with commercial varieties of the time.

It is believed that the cross is that of fine long-staple Mexican cotton with coarse long-staple Peruvian cotton. The Caravonica cotton tree was reported to grow to a height of 20 feet or more and had to be trimmed each year. The tree yielded cotton profitably for five to eight years without replanting.

Several departments including Agricultural and Environmental Research, Fiber Competition, Fiber Processing, and Global Supply Chain Marketing coordinated to provide attendees with information about high volume instrument testing and fiber processing. Vikki Martin, Director, Quality Research and Product Evaluation at Cotton Incorporated, said that the event highlighted the fundamentals of HVI® and AFIS testing and helped attendees expand their focus to the full spectrum of fiber measurements and their various meanings and applications.

"Cotton breeders interact with producers rather than textile mills, so we helped them to understand spinners' concerns pertaining to fiber quality," she said. "While breeders are already focused on fiber quality and yield, we helped them to see the need to look beyond fiber length and strength to length uniformity and length distribution."

Workshop attendees showed particular interest in AFIS testing, which mills can use to measure carding efficiency and attain another layer of data beyond HVI properties such as fiber distributions (see the related story on the back page).

Cotton Incorporated presentations included "HVI & AFIS: What They Measure and Mean" by Vikki Martin, "Yarn and Spinning" by David Clapp, Director of Fiber Processing at Cotton Incorporated, and "Beyond the Farm Gate: Marketing Cotton Globally" by Mark Messura, Senior Vice President, Global Supply Chain Marketing at Cotton Incorporated.

Additional presentations were given by Dr. Eric Hequet, Texas Tech University; Dr. Lawrence Young, USDA-ARS and Dr. Fred Bourland, University of Arkansas; and Dr. Ted Wallace, Mississippi State University and Dr. Gerald Myers, Louisiana State University. Attendees also toured the Product Evaluation and Fiber Processing Labs at Cotton Incorporated to better understand how to improve fiber quality.

Dr. Don Jones, Director of Agricultural and Environmental Research at Cotton Incorporated, noted that the workshop helped breeders to better understand the cotton supply chain. "The meeting provided for good interaction and increased communication between breeders and cotton specialists," he said.


2013 Cotton and USDA Conferences to be Held in Raleigh

Mark your calendars; after a four-year hiatus, the Fiber Competition Division of Cotton Incorporated will host a cotton conference in 2013. The conference, which is planned for June 17-19, coincides with a bit of history as the USDA moves its Triennial Cotton Standards Conference to Raleigh, N.C. after a 48-year run in Memphis, Tenn. The USDA event will follow the conclusion of the Cotton Incorporated conference and end on June 21.

Cotton Incorporated last held a cotton conference in the Raleigh area in the year 2000 in order to showcase the company's newly opened headquarters in nearby Cary. The 2013 conference meetings will be held at Raleigh's Crabtree Marriott, while review of the USDA standards boxes will take place at the Cotton Incorporated Product Evaluation Lab (PEL) in Cary.

To meet the challenge of the location change by the USDA, the 2013 cotton conference will be much different from years past as it will host different segments of the cotton supply chain to share research and new technology and to facilitate relationships between various segments and organizations.

"The 2013 cotton conference will bring together researchers and textile industry professionals in a setting where they can interact and build relationships," said Susan Foote, Associate Director, Fiber Competition Marketing and Communications at Cotton Incorporated. "The event will provide a forum that will facilitate the exchange of ideas important to the future of the cotton industry."

Registration information will become available at a later date. In the meantime, keep watching for an upcoming survey seeking your input on which topics should be covered at the 2013 cotton conference in Raleigh.


New AFIS Pro2 Tester Installed in Product Evaluation Lab

The Product Evaluation Laboratory (PEL) at Cotton Incorporated has installed an AFIS Pro2 tester. The USTER® Advanced Fiber Information System (AFIS), which replaces an older AFIS unit, uses small combing rolls to separate a 0.5-gram cotton sliver into individual cotton fibers, trash, and neps, which are then transported via airstream across either the fiber sensor or the nep and trash sensor.

Time of flight across the sensors determines fiber properties, such as fiber length, while the signal shape determines neps versus trash. The system can be set to count either 3,000 or 5,000 fibers per specimen.

AFIS was originally developed to measure only cotton neps (entanglement of dead or immature fiber) for the spinning industry to evaluate carding effectiveness. Today, AFIS measures fiber length, length distribution, short fiber content, fineness, maturity ratio, nep count and size, seed coat neps, trash count and size, and visible foreign matter.

Due to time considerations in testing, however, AFIS is not currently used as part of U.S. classing. PEL staff can test 50 samples per day using AFIS. By comparison, the high volume instrument used in classing enables staff to test about 450 samples per day. A USDA classing office averages nearly 600 samples per shift. While AFIS provides critical information on cotton breeder samples, it would not be practical for classing the entire U.S. crop at this time.


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