Most of us demand 100 percent cotton in the clothes we buy, especially for us guys. Nothing provides the comfort like the feel of a cotton shirt or pants. Anytime plastic fibers like polyester are introduced to the blend it diminishes the comfort level and value of the garment for me. The same goes for a textile mill when buying a bale of cotton. That mill wants and expects 100 percent cotton without plastic or other contaminants. Contaminants can end up in yarn and fabric products, resulting in defective fabrics and significant costs to textile manufacturers.
Keeping plastics out is not always an easy task because plastics are an integral part of our production system. Plastic irrigation pipe, plastic ditch liners, plastic tie-downs, as well as module covers and wraps, are all involved in the production system and can inadvertently get into the module and into the gin. As we all would agree, the best time to remove plastic is in large pieces and not once it has been shredded by gin equipment.
Keeping plastics and other fiber contaminants out of the bale requires diligence and commitment. Education of employees working in the field and gin is critical. Some recommended practices to prevent lint contamination can be found on the National Cotton Council’s Web site at http://www.cotton.org/tech/quality/prevent-lint.cfm.
• The removal of plastic irrigation pipes, irrigation ditch liners and foreign materials from fields before harvest.
• Inspecting, repairing or discarding worn or frayed module covers.
• The exclusive use of cotton cord or rope when securing module tarps. Never use plastic twine for securing module tarps.
• The complete removal of module covers and tie-down materials before ginning.
Remember to train employees to be observant and take the opportunity to safely remove plastic when the gin is shut down. One of the positive attributes of U.S. cotton is that it is free of contaminants, as compared to other production regions. Let’s do our best to keep it that way.
Thomas D. Valco, PhD, USDA Cotton Technology Transfer, Stoneville, Miss. Contact Valco at (662) 686-5255 or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.