cotton bolls

The pickings spent winter an spring drying our in a kitchen. Two or three weeks after being brought inside, the Pima cotton capsules started opening. It was probably another month before the Uplands opened. The Pimas’ rind was thinner than the Uplands’,which might explain the time difference. In the real world, Upland cotton typically matures faster than Pima cotton.

Both Pima cotton plants produced bolls probably suitable for spinning . Some bolls have a four-foil cotton lock configuration, others have five locks. Which bolls were harvested from which plant was not recorded.

All the Upland cotton bolls had four locks

For many bolls, the cotton fiber is not fluffed out as one might one expect. This may be because the cotton capsuled were soaked by several fall storms. Looking closely at the various photographs, one can see convoluted surface , similar to the surface of a human brain’s. Several of these unopened bolls were handled by guests interested in the cotton. Repeated handling caused the cotton to fluff.

Based on my readings and Internet searches, it appears a cotton plant typically needs to produce about 3–4 dozen bolls to pay for itself. With some coaxing, our six plants yielded three dozen opened bolls.

The cotton is light pink taupe, it has not been cleaned or bleached. These staples are probably long and strong enough for spinning


6 Responses to “cotton bolls”

  1. Know Thank You Says:

    Thanks very much for putting together such an informative site. Fascinating process and well documented!

    • oregoncotton Says:

      Please excuse my belated thank you.

      You have an interesting blog, enjoyed reading about your garden, be sure to savor the fruits of your labors before the first frost.

      Chronicling is such a enjoyable activity, and it looks like you also relish this process, besides, with some forethought, it gives us an excuse to be outside with our cameras.

      Regards, connie

  2. mytinkertots Says:

    I bought cotton seeds last year, but didn’t realize the growing season was so long! We’re about to get started this year and I really appreciate being able to read your blog.

    Thank you for such excellent recording!

    • oregoncotton Says:

      So glad you are going to try growing cotton. If you WWW your project, please let me know, and I will put a link to your blog/page.

      From your user’s name, sounds like you might have some children. Please remember, these plants and seeds are poisonous if ingested.

      Good luck with your garden, Connie

  3. farmtofiber Says:

    Hi Connie,
    I am a University of Oregon student in the fiber arts and environmental studies departments. This spring, I am doing an independent study to learn more about fiber farming and production. You were doing this in 2008. Do you still have some cotton plants? I saw something about the Willamette valley on here – I would love to get in touch with you if you. I am mostly working with sheep and alpacas, because that is what we have, but silk, cotton, and other fiber production are also interesting to me and I would love to see what you’ve done. In the meantime I’ll look over your blog. Thanks 🙂

    • oregoncotton Says:

      Hi farmtofiber,

      Please excuse me for not replying more promptly.

      The last post of the blog is where the project currently stands. The next step is to clean the fibers.

      The problem is my fibers are silky thin. The cotton bursts, it needs 20 or 22 consecutive days and nights of above a certain temperature, which might be somewhere in the mid 70s, for the fiber to be mill grade. Apparently the fiber axis lengthens during the day, and a new set of annular cells are laid down each night. My suspicion is that the cool nights were not conductive to this this stage of development.

      In the middle ages, cotton was combed with teasle to remove the chaff and what-nots. Some time this summer I hope to gather some thistles, and try to clean the cotton.

      There is also a cleaning method called willowing, but am a bit apprehensive to try it. It looks like a rough way to handle the most hearty of cotton fibers.

      Japan also has a tradition of willowing. I am trying to find out more about pre-industrial Japanese cotton production, and how the cleaning was done. India might also be a good place to check.

      Good luck with your project, connie

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