What is Pima cotton?
Pima cotton is the name for extra-long staple (ELS) cotton grown in the U.S., Australia, Peru and in very limited production in a few other locations around the world. It is grown in select areas where the cotton can benefit from a long growing season in a hot, dry climate. Its production costs are much higher than upland cotton costs in the same area.
The name was given to the ELS cotton being grown in the Southwest U.S. in about 1910. It was renamed to honour the Pima Indians who were growing the cotton for the USDA in Sacaton, Arizona, where the government’s Pima breeding program was being conducted, but its origins date back to its cultivation in Peru.
The difference between Pima cotton and common upland cotton are staple length and strength. Cotton is considered to be Pima if its fibres are an inch and 3/8 or longer. Upland cotton typically ranges from 7/8 inch to an inch and 1/4. Also, the strength and uniformity measurements are considerably higher in Pima cotton.
What’s the difference between Pima and Egyptian cotton?
All cotton grown in Egypt is “Egyptian” cotton, but it is not all ELS cotton. Egypt is one of the largest producers of ELS cotton in the world, but it consumes much of what it produces. The majority of what it exports is long staple cotton, not ELS (Pima) cotton. However, the description “Egyptian cotton” conjures in the mind of many consumers the image of the very finest and longest cotton in the world. Egypt does produce and sell some of the best ELS cotton in the world, but it amounts to less than 15 percent of annual global ELS cotton exports, and less than 35 percent of Egyptian cotton exports. Additionally, Egypt currently does not produce any certified organic ELS cotton.
What’s the benefit of Pima Cotton?
Its fineness and longer staple length makes Pima a premium cotton fibre. Because of the fineness of organic pima cotton, more fibres can be spun into a yarn of a given count, which will enhance the feel, softness and drapeability of a fabric.
Our certified organic Pima cotton, found in all our premium products, is cultivated in a centuries-old traditional, cooperative manner in the Canete and Chincha valleys found high in the Peruvian Andes. No defoliants, herbicides, pesticides, or synthetic fertilizers are used to control plant growth, fight pests or fertilize the crop. No synthetic chemicals are used in harvesting or manufacturing.
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