Ag News

Contamination threatens U.S. cotton's reputation

by Georgia Cotton Commission

Posted on Sep 16, 2020 at 0:00 AM

Cotton grown in the United States has the reputation for being one of the cleanest fibers in the world. This reputation is under threat, as plastic contamination in cotton is a major issue for the industry.

Gins and textile mills continue to find plastic in cotton bales. Some of the culprits include plastic wrap from round modules, shopping bags, paper towels and other contaminants littering the sides of fields before harvest.

About 88% of plastic contamination is module wrap. Because plastic is not generally distributed uniformly in a bale, the plastic may not be recognized in the sample and later found in the mill. This problem could cause customers to avoid a specific gin or growing area.

Plastic contamination is preventable. To maintain the stellar reputation of U.S. cotton, it is crucial that both producers and ginners take proper steps to prevent plastic contamination. Harvest season is quickly approaching and it is important to adopt practices to reduce plastic contamination. Some tips to avoid contamination are:

•       Check your field before harvest;

•       Remove debris from your field;

•       Inspect harvest equipment daily for foreign matter;

•       Do not place modules near potential contaminants or on standing or shredded stalks;

•       Make communication between the producer and ginner a priority;

•       Make sure module covers and wraps are completely removed before ginning;

•       Inspect module feeders for foreign matter;

If you are interested in more information on preventing contamination in cotton, please visit the Georgia Cotton Commission YouTube Channel ( or the National Cotton Council of America website (

The Georgia Cotton Commission is a producer-funded organization located in Perry, Georgia. The commission began in 1965. Georgia cotton producers pay an assessment enabling the commission to invest in programs of research, promotion and education on behalf of all cotton producers of Georgia. For more information about the Georgia Cotton Commission please call 478-988-4235 or visit

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