Where Is Pima Cotton Grown? (What Is Pima Cotton Guide)

When you want a very breathable fabric cotton and its many varieties are the go-to materials. Even Pima cotton is highly breathable and helps keep you cool when the temperatures rise, especially when you get hot under the collar. It is a comfortable material to wear as well.

Where is Pima cotton grown? Originally, pima cotton was first grown in South Carolina. The production of Pima cotton has grown from America to include Pakistan, India, and China, with the last country the largest producer of all.

To learn more about this cotton variation, just continue to read our article. it has the information you need to know about so you can use this top-quality fabric in the right sewing projects. Take a few moments and learn all about this great cotton fabric.

What is a Pima Cotton?


The name Pima cotton is a combination of the plant used to grow the fiber and the Pima Indians who played a key role in its cultivation. With their ancient knowledge, they worked with the US Department of Agriculture to grow the special cotton plant used to make this material.

This variation of cotton is still cotton but with a little tweak to it. The characteristics include breathability, some stretching capability, as well as some moisture-wicking ability. Plus, it is not prone to pilling.

The material can be washed in cool or warm water and is great for bedding as well as some clothing items. It is soft, comfortable to wear, and can be quite durable depending on the thread count.

Unfortunately, it does not have high heat retention capabilities so it is not a good material to wear during the cooler months of the year.

Is Pima Cotton 100 Cotton?

Yes, it is but it is not grown from the typical cotton plant. Even though it comes from a different species of the cotton plant, the Gossypium barbadense, it is still 100% cotton fiber and has all the best characteristics of regular cotton.

This plant can only be grown in tropical regions and is very vulnerable to frost. the plant is more of a tree and has yellow flowers on it which produce the long fibers this variation of cotton is known for.

Also, this plant may have been around since 3000 BC giving it as ancient a heritage as regular cotton enjoys. Another name for this version of cotton is sea island because it is commonly grown on tropical islands in the western region of the world.

Clothing manufacturers like this version of cotton because it is very soft and has a very rich texture.

How is Pima Cotton Made?


The process can be a bit long as it all starts with picking the cotton. This was originally done by hand until the cotton engine or cotton gin was invented. Technology made reaping the cotton seeds from the Gossypium barbadense tree very easy.

After the seeds are picked, they are made into bales from which fibers are picked and sent to a mixing machine. The mixing machine does not add chemicals or petroleum products. This machine simply mixes the fibers =before they are sent to the carding process.

The carding stage simply pulls the fibers into parallel lines which are then used to create a web. After this, the fibers are combed and that just removes any impurities from the fibers.

Once the impurities are removed, the fibers are woven onto spools and spun into yarn before they are woven into fabric. As you can see, Pima Cotton is 100% pure cotton with no harsh chemical additives to create it.

What is Pima Cotton Made of?

This cotton variety is made from 100% cotton seeds taken from the Gossypium barbadense cotton tree. Those yellow flowers help create the long fibers that make this cotton material very soft as well as durable.

As you can see from the process, there are no harsh chemicals added to make this material. that means you are getting 100% natural fibers when you buy this material by the yard or in your new bedding or clothing items.

Everything in the process is natural and impurities are removed to make sure you are getting nothing but the best material possible. However, with that said, there may be some Pima Cotton manufacturers that may use bleach to clean the fibers and make sure all impurities are destroyed.

We should add that it is possible that after production different chemical coatings may be added to protect the cloth from flames, shrinking, and other laundry ills. It will depend on the manufacturer if this material is given those extra coatings or not.

Where is Pima Cotton Grown?


This cotton variation comes from tropical regions. It has been known to originally be grown in South Carolina which is not completely tropical but the Sea islands of South Carolina the plant was found on are tropical.

From there the production expanded to California, Texas, New Mexico, and Arizona. Then China has been able to find some regions of its country where the plant will grow and they cultivated the plant and became the world’s largest producer of this fabric. That is until India overtook that country and produces more.

Pima cotton represents only 5% of the cotton production in America and the country was the sole producer of this cotton type until the latter decades of the 20th century. Then in ancient times the West Indies and different regions of South America grew the Gossypium barbadense tree and made Pima cotton.

Pakistan is the last country that produces this material.

Where does Pima Cotton Come From?

Pima cotton comes from several different countries of the world as you have just read. America was the original country that produced this plant and the people of India made it popular as they found it to be more breathable than Egyptian cotton.

The fiber itself comes from the Gossypium barbadense tree which has yellow flowers to distinguish it from other plants. This tree does not like cold weather and will die if it is exposed to frost or very cool temperatures.

You will find this plant growing in tropical regions and even though it looks like a tree it is 100% cotton. Another interesting tidbit is that Pima cotton or this tree has enjoyed a very rich heritage as it has been grown non-stop since about 3000 BC.

Whether the plant was turned into fabrics as early as 5000 years ago remains to be seen. That will be up to archaeologists to determine when they make new ancient discoveries.

Is Pima Cotton Grown in Arizona?


Yes, it is and even though the plant may not have originated in that state, Arizona has tribes called Pima Indians as well as naming a county and other state locations Pima. How much of this plant is grown there is not known for sure although in the Yuma area alone only 1000 acres are dedicated to growing this plant.

The Upland cotton variety is grown over 15,000 acres in the same region. Sometimes this cotton variety is called Egyptian cotton but the two are not really the same type. The name Pima was given to honor the Pima Indians who worked hard showing the USDA how to grow the plant correctly.

Also, the term ‘Pima’ is a generic name for different Extra Long Staple cotton that is also grown throughout the United States and other countries. What makes this version so popular is that the long fibers help create a very durable fabric.

The characteristics of this material come more from recent technological and agricultural strategies than ancient ones.

Where is Pima Cotton Grown in the United States?

You should find this plant growing in the more tropical regions of the country. The Sea islands of South Carolina, Texas, New Mexico, Arizona as well as California. The plant cannot be grown in climates that are not warm all year round and if they are, they will die or be damaged beyond repair.

Those are the reasons why you won’t find cotton growing in cold regions like Canada. Since Pima cotton only makes up about 5% of the overall US cotton production, you may not find large fields filled with the Gossypium barbadense tree.

Land is set aside for the plant but it is not a large amount in many cases. Even though it is not grown in large amounts, the fibers are quite long, strong, and help resist pilling as well as being durable enough to withstand warm water washing.

Pima and Supima cotton are said not to be the same fiber or fabric and the latter material may be better than the former. Also, Supima is only grown in the US which is another reason you won’t find large swaths of land dedicated to Pima cotton growth.

Is Pima Cotton Organic?


The best answer that can be given here is that it can be organic. Cotton is a plant that can be grown in different ways either by using pesticides to ward off its natural enemies. Or it can be grown organically which simply means no chemicals are used in its production.

Organic production is rare and Peru seems to have the only company in its region that produces organic Pima cotton. The plant is grown over three valleys and the seeds are handpicked. This can raise the cost of the fabric once it reaches stores in your area.

Not everyone uses organic strategies to grow Pima cotton so you will not find a lot of that fabric in the stores you frequent. Overall, you will find that only 1% of all Pima cotton is grown organically. The other 99% is grown through conventional means which in and of itself is not wrong.

Is Pima Cotton Sustainable?

It depends on the type of cultivating one does. Organic growing may not be sustainable due to the need for a lot of natural fertilizer to help the plants grow nice and strong.

Conventional growing of Pima cotton is said to be very sustainable due to modern agricultural techniques that use fewer resources than ever before. The region the crop is grown will influence how sustainable the crop will be. But good farming habits should make sure the land can handle the annual growth.

While the organic growing of this cotton can use pesticides, those chemicals must come from natural sources which may also be hard to come by or be affordable. iI is a tough choice when deciding how to grow this tree.

One wants to be environmentally friendly but they do not want to empty their bank accounts while doing it. Organic growth can be expensive.

What is Pima Cotton Percale?


Percale is a weave style and not a fiber style. This weave method can use any type of fiber it wants, even synthetic ones, to produce the comfortable bedding or clothing fabric you like.

Because it can use any fiber, Pima cotton fibers can be used as well. All you are getting is a very soft, breathable fabric that has been woven in such a way to highlight those top characteristics.

What makes this version so popular is the thread count. Usually, you can get percale weaves in the 180+ thread count size which makes it durable and soft. Pima Cotton can reach up to 300 thread count which makes it ideal as a percale fiber.

Some Final Words

Pima cotton may be grown in limited regions of the world, but the tree that grows those seeds still produces a great fiber that makes Pima cotton one of the best cotton varieties you can buy.

When turned into a nice fabric, you get lots of positive characteristics that make it feel good against your skin as well as keeping you cool at the same time. It is a good material to use in your sewing projects.

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