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Trends And Descriptions (Cotton)  


Cotton is an oil crop, though grown mainly for its fiber. The fiber consists of long, fine, flattened and convoluted hairs called ‘lint’, which can be detached easily from the seed. The value and quality of the cotton variety depends on the fineness of the fiber as well as its length. The longer and finer the staple the better its quality, since it can be used to produce thinner and lighter textiles without knots or uneven surfaces. A single fiber is a little less in diameter than a human hair, and is measured in micronaires. Five different staple lengths are distinguished: short (less than 21 mm), medium (21-25 mm), medium long (26-28 mm), long (28-34 mm), and extra long (more than 35 mm). The majority of the world production (about 60 per cent) consists of medium long staple. Medium staple is around 18 per cent, and short staple a mere 3 per cent, produced almost exclusively in South Asia. Longer staple lengths (long and extra long), comprise around 18 per cent of the world production of cotton (during 1977-78 to 1981-82), and can only be grown in more or less ideal conditions regarding soil, water, temperature, and light.13 Slightly more than half of the increase in total output is accounted for by yield expansion. Yield trends can be divided into five different phases.

1950s
Constant yields: In the 1950s, yields remained more or less constant for the entire decade, from 1949-50 to 1959-60, at around 200 kilogram per hectare.

1960s
steady growth: the first spurt of growth took place in the 1960s, when yields rose steadily from 200 to 300 kilograms per hectare in 1970-71, and to 361 kilograms in 1971-72.

1970s
The first cotton crisis: A severe and persistent attack of the American bollworm devastated the crop during the 1970s, resulting in wildly fluctuating yields between a high of 377 and a low of 233 kilograms, re-attaining the 1971-72 figure only in 1979-82.

1980s
Rapid growth: The 1980s saw a dramatic growth in yields, from 364 kilograms per hectare in 1982-83 to 769 kilograms in 1991-92. This was also a period when the major expansion in pesticide use took place.

1990s
The second cotton crisis: Repeating the experience of 20 years earlier, the peak achieved in 1991-92 was followed by another severe and persistent pest attack, this time of the leaf curl virus and its disease vector, the whitefly. Yields dropped dramatically from 769 to between 500 and 600 kilograms per hectare.
 
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