Submitted to: National Cotton Council Beltwide Cotton Conference
Publication Type: Proceedings
Publication Acceptance Date: 1/9/2004
Publication Date: 6/1/2004
Citation: Hughs, S.E., McAlister III, D.D., Armijo, C.B., Baker, K.D. 2004. Bale moisture addition - a case study. In: Proceedings of the National Cotton Council. 2004 Beltwide Cotton Conferences, January 5-9, 2004, San Antonio, Texas. 2004 CDROM. p. 2995-3001. Interpretive Summary: Cotton fiber moisture content is an important parameter that affects cotton quality through ginning, baling, and warehouse storage. It has long been a common practice for gins to remove moisture from cotton by drying with heated air or adding moisture by warm humid air or, in some cases, water spray. Moisture is normally removed in the seed cotton cleaning proces and added during the baling process. There have been recent reports of some gins adding excessive moisture at the bale press, and this was detrimental to fiber quality when the bale was opened at the textile mill. A study was done to determine the fiber quality effects of several known moisture levels during long term bale storage. The moisture was applied just before the bale press using a commercially available water spray system. The study found that, after six months in storage, the color of the cotton fiber had significantly changed for any cotton above 8% initial moisture content. The National Cotton Council subsequently issued a statement recommending that no cotton be baled above 7-1/2% moisture content as a maximum.
Technical Abstract: The measurement and control of moisture during cotton harvest, ginning, and textile processing is a very important quality consideration. Research has long shown that, in general, cotton should be harvested below 12% moisture, cleaned, and ginned between 6 to 8% moisture to preserve cotton-fiber quality during the ginning process. It has also been industry practice to try to maintain the 6 to 8% fiber-moisture level at baling for ease of press operation and to maintain fiber quality during long-term storage. Recent moisture-addition-equipment developments have made it possible to bale cotton at moisture contents higher than the old recommended 6 to 8% range. There were concerns by some segments of the cotton industry that baling cotton at the higher moisture levels would lead to fiber-quality degradation during bale storage. Recent research has shown that baled cotton fiber does significantly change color during 6 months' storage at moisture levels above 8%. These results have led the National Cotton Council to recommend that the moisture content of U. S. cotton bales be kept at or below 7.5%.