THE HISTORY OF COTTON
The history of cotton begins in Central America in the 5th century BC, where it was used by Native Americans. It has been known in China and India for 5,000 years. It was transported to Europe in the Middle Ages, when ARABIAN MERCHANTS began to supply it; it was not so common at first due to its high price. This situation persisted until the end of the 18th century, but began to change dramatically from the Napoleonic era. The hard-to-find silk was replaced by cotton fabrics. In time, the seeds of the plant also began to arrive, but due to the unfavorable climate, they did not find use in Europe. In the second half of the 18th century, machines for fabric production were invented. This significantly sped up the weaving of fabric previously being carried out by hand. In the United States, cotton fabrics were mass-produced slowly displacing linen, wool and hemp. As a result of the Civil War, which took place in the 19th century, cotton plantations in America were destroyed. At that time, India became the new exporter for Europe. In the interwar period, cotton cultivation reached its maximum area in the world and has not changed much since then, nor has cotton fiber production. Improvements in the production of materials and automation of processes have meant that cotton has been more widely used. Today it is one of the more valued raw materials finding use in the clothing, textile and other industries.
Cotton arrived to Poland in the 19th century. Until then, linen was mainly king. Cotton fibers began to displace and partially replaced it. The country's authorities gave numerous privileges, both to Polish and foreign settlers, to encourage the development of the cotton industry. They were exempted from taxes or public fees, the obligation to serve in the army was removed, and duties on importing machinery and livestock were canceled. At that time, cotton-weaving centers were established in Łódź and Andrychów, along the lines of today's economic zone. This was related to the decision of the state authorities to establish a textile settlement in 1820. About 20 years later, there was a revolution in the mechanization of the cotton industry in Poland, at the so-called White Geyer Factory, where the country's first steam engine was installed. This initiated the establishment of mechanized textile factories and plants. Not only factories began to form, but also workers' settlements, such as the famous Księży Młyn built by Karol Scheibler.
Cotton is one of the most popular materials among consumers, it owes its popularity to its great quality and natural origin. Cotton needs special conditions for its cultivation. It favors a warm and humid climate, where the temperature does not fall below 15°C especially during active growth. Otherwise, the seeds will have a low germination capacity. The ideal temperature is 21-37°C. A humid climate is desirable, but frequent rainfall during the ripening and harvesting period should not occur if you want the crop to succeed. It is grown as an annual crop, which means that after preparing the field, sowing takes place, each year in the spring. The crop is harvested in the fall, and immediately afterwards the field is plowed to prepare it for the following spring. The largest part of the world's cotton production belongs to China, India, the United States, Pakistan, Brazil and Turkey.
Since the Industrial Revolution, cotton has become the main material from which clothing and textiles are made. Today, thanks to its universality, availability and affordability, it is a valued material in many industries.
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