By Bill Dwyer
Senior Manager – Advisory
FC Stone Australia
During the last decade, the cotton requirements of spinning mills have undergone a quantum leap. With a far greater understanding of the components of cotton quality today than 10 years ago, the expectations placed upon the supply chain are far greater than ever before. With faster and more precise spinning capacity coming online in recent years, the requirement for tighter, objective measurement within a laydown has increased significantly. Therefore, we have seen a greater demand for better fiber specifications to meet demands of the new spinning technology.
Because spinning mills require better quality fiber for highspeed spinning, merchants often have to gut their inventory of lower quality cotton to meet contract requirements. Leftover bales that don’t meet these requirements are difficult to piece together with other contracts. The saving grace for merchants has been variety improvement in cotton quality, combined with advanced agronomy, which has led to better overall fiber characteristics.
Mills Asking For FiberMax
During the years of drought in Australia, a lot of the supply of high-grade cotton ended up coming from production areas that traditionally produced lower grades of cotton. Texas, in particular, saw vast improvements in its fiber quality output. So much so that many spinning mills asked for the seed variety FiberMax by name.
What has been abundantly clear during the past decade is that raw fiber quality has improved, and the uniformity that we see from the first bale to the last is far superior today with cotton derived from new seed varieties.
The premiums paid for better and more consistent fiber characteristics have widened from the base grade in the export market. In turn, this should be reflected in those returns paid back to the producers.
With premium basis paid for better fiber characteristics, seed variety selection for quality is closely following that of yield, and that is exactly what the market wants.