U.S. Cotton: Classification Systems Insures Consistent Quality

The U.S. Cotton textile industry as well as any textile mill around the world using U.S. raw cotton depends on reliable fiber classification data for manufacturing cotton yarns and fabrics. This contributes to a cotton textile mill’s ability to acquire, warehouse, and utilize cotton in a cost-effective manner.

The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) provides the cotton classification service to the U.S. cotton farmer and this data is available to the textile mills using U.S. cotton. Working with the U.S. cotton industry, the USDA continually strives to improve its record of reliability and sustainability. In fact, 98 percent of all U.S. cotton is submitted for processing through the USDA classification system. Because the USDA gets the same results repeatedly using the same measuring procedures, the classification system provides just that….reliable and dependable data.

The United States cotton industry is the only country in the world to use sophisticated technology, known as High Volume Instruments (HVI), in the classification process. These machines are able to give extensive data on the length, strength, fineness, and uniformity of the fiber…..data that allows U.S. textile mills to select the proper raw materials for their yarns and fabrics and insure consistent quality of their final products.

Working with the U.S. cotton industry and the HVI manufactures, USDA has established the most effective techniques for reliable cotton quality information to help meet the needs of the world’s textile and apparel manufacturers. Proper conditioning maintains consistency in operations. The U.S. industry adopted atmospheric standards that exceed the American Society for Testing and Materials (ASTM) and the International Standards Organization (ISO). All cotton classing laboratories and conditioning rooms maintain the same levels for temperature and relative humidity.

Standardization ensures consistency and reliability in cotton grading. The Standardization unit of the U.S. Cotton Program provides the globally accepted standards that serve as the basis for consistent cotton classification worldwide. Additionally, the standards facilitate and promote commerce in U.S. grown upland cotton.

To deliver fast and efficient classing information, the U.S. cotton industry maintains a National Database in Memphis, TN. The National Database provides telecommunication of classing data to cotton owners and agents available to all customers of U.S. cotton.

To assure a consistent level of testing among classing offices, approximately one percent on all U.S. classed in each office is randomly selected for re-testing in the Quality Assurance Unit. A computer program selects each checklot samples after the grades have been assigned and quality data cannot be altered on the checklot samples once it has been selected.

Additionally, the U.S. cotton industry works with domestic and international associations in pursuit of uniform HVI fiber quality measurements by working with the HVI Check Test Program and the International HVI Level Assessment Program.

The investigation of new innovations and the research into future developments for the cotton classing system is essential to improving the reliability of U.S. cotton quality measurements. Working to find better and more efficient means to provide classification services is a priority of the U.S. cotton program. All of these efforts results in more consistent yarns and fabrics that are desired by the world’s garment manufacturing industries.

Antex Knitting Buhler Quality Yarns Corp.Cap Yarns, Inc.Carolina Cotton Works, Inc. - CCWCentral Textiles/Cotswold IndustriesContempora FabricsFrontier Spinning Mills, Inc.Hamrick Mills, Inc.Keer America CorporationMilliken & CompanyMount Vernon Mills, Inc.ParkdaleSwisstex Direct