The cotton fibre grows on the seed of a variety of plants of the genus Gossypium. Of the four cotton species cultivated for fibre, the most important are G. hirsutum, which originated in Mexico and produces 90% of the world’s cotton, and G. barbadense, of Peruvian origin, which accounts for 5%. World average cotton yields are around 800 kg per hectare.
Cotton is almost pure cellulose, with softness and breathability that have made it the world’s most popular natural fibre. Fibre length varies from 10 to 65 mm, and diameter from 11 to 22 microns. It absorbs moisture readily, which makes cotton clothes comfortable in hot weather, while high tensile strength in soap solutions means they are easy to wash.
The world produces around 25 million tonnes of Cotton every year. Six countries – China, Brazil, India, Pakistan, the USA and Uzbekistan – account for more than 80% of total production.
Source: FAO 2009