EXTRA LONG STAPLE (ELS) COTTON
Extra Long Cotton Production in Tons
Extra Long Cotton Consumption in Tons
Reinhart has been trading ELS cotton for more than 100 years and is one of the leading ELS merchant worldwide. This commitment translates into solid long term relationships with growers and suppliers who have come to know Reinhart as a reliable and trusted ELS partner. Reinhart's global ELS customers continue to be leaders in producing the highest quality fine count yarns used in shirting and sheeting, towels and home furnishings.
Reinhart has a dedicated team of specialists in ELS cotton which is supported by local offices and representatives in all major producing countries. This allows the company's customers to benefit from a unique know-how of the ELS market, not just in giving qualitative advice on the wide range of varieties, but also regarding the management of price fluctuations which often exceed the volatility of regular upland cotton.
While regular upland cotton is the seed coating of the plant Gossypium hirsutum, ELS cotton is the product of a botanically different plant, Gossypium barbadense. Originating in Peru around 4200 BC, Gossypium barbadense traveled via the Caribbean and North America to Egypt where it arrived during the reign of Mohammad Ali Pasha in the early 19th century. Over years of painful selections with primitive methods the first commercially usable long staple variety called Mit Afifi emerged in 1882. Another long staple variety developed in Egypt in the 19th century was Sakellaridis, which formed the basis for all long-staple varieties grown today in Central Asia, East Africa and the Xinjiang province of China.
Today ELS varieties are grown in a number of countries worldwide. The largest production centers are in Egypt, California and in the Western Chinese province of Xinjiang. Minor producing regions are India, the Central Asian Republics, East Africa, Israel, Peru and Australia. Textiles made out of ELS cotton are produced in many countries throughout the world by textile companies equipped to spin and weave this unique fiber. ELS cotton only represents three percent of total world cotton production, but consumers all around the world consider textiles made of ELS varieties as representing the very best quality.
Egypt has traditionally been the leading source of ELS cotton and still has a deserved reputation for producing some of the finest varieties at competitive prices. Today it remains the second largest exporter of ELS cotton to the world markets. Reinhart has been strongly involved in Egyptian cotton since 1907 when Reinhart & Co. was founded in Alexandria. It soon grew into one of the largest Egyptian cotton exporters, active in ginning as well as financing of cotton production. After the revolution of President Nasser, the country became less friendly to foreign investment, and in 1963 Reinhart & Co., Alexandria was nationalized. Despite this set-back, Reinhart has always kept its good connections in Egypt and has successfully maintained its position as a major trader of Egyptian cotton.
All Egyptian cotton is handpicked and roller ginned in order to preserve its unique fiber characteristics. Today Egypt is producing cotton in a wide range of qualities and staple lengths from 1.5/32" up to 1.1/2", the major varieties being Giza 86 and Giza 88.
The largest exporter of ELS cotton is the U.S., where this specialty crop is produced mainly in the Southwestern states of California, Arizona, New Mexico and Texas. ELS cotton has been grown in the United States for a long time. The currently used seed is a variety called Pima. This is akin to the famous Sea Island cotton which was grown in South Carolina from the late 1780's until the 1930's. Modern seed breeding techniques continue to produce Pima cottons with superior fiber properties, luster and silkiness, at the same time improving yields. The result has been an excellent and competitive fiber which is usually valued at a higher price than the Egyptian Giza 86, and somewhat below Giza 88.
In 1954, the American ELS producers formed the Supima Association of America, primarily to aid farmers with government regulations, as well as to provide agricultural research and promotion. The Supima Association has been very successful in promoting the use of U.S. Pima (Supima) with the development of licensing programs, manufacturing and product merchandising trade shows and events in major fashion cities around the world.
Today ELS or Pima cotton is only grown in the driest of climates of the Southwestern United States, specifically Arizona, California, New Mexico and Texas. Since Pima's first introduction in California in 1989, the cotton growers of the San Joaquin Valley have proven to be among the most efficient and productive producers of high quality ELS cotton in the world. By 1996, California was the leading producer of Pima in the U.S. and now produces over ninety percent of the production.
All Pima cotton grown in the U.S. is irrigated, and farmers are utilizing the most modern farm management and cultural practices. Pima - like other cotton - is farmed very intensely, taking into account the proper soil types, timely irrigation, insect control and defoliation. Pima is 100% machine picked. Like Egyptian and other high quality ELS cotton, U.S. Pima is carefully roller ginned to preserve the superior fiber characteristics.
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