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Egyptian cotton, which, next to the sea-island variety, is probably the finest in the world. Napoleon Bonaparte's great "Description de l'Egypte" shows that at the time of his invasion two different species of cotton were grown there. One of these was a short-staple Asiatic variety, of former commercial value, which has now disappeared; the other, a treecotton of Upper Egypt, probably identical with that of which Professor Alpino had furnished the first botanical record, about the close of the sixteenth century, when it was used as an ornamental shrub. At the suggestion of M. Jumel, a Franco-Swiss engineer, this plant was taken from a garden in Cairo, under a system of state control favored by Mohammed Ali, founder of the Khedivate, and propagated with such success (from the year 1820) that it soon displaced the short-staple Asiatic type, as the brown, strong lint, readily ginned from the almost naked seed, quickly made its reputation with the spinners, and this type of lint has been typical of the Egyptian product ever since. It is especially adapted for thread, fine yarns, fine underwear and hosiery, and for goods requiring smooth finish and high luster. It can also be used for the manufacture of sewing thread and other articles which need to be exceptionally strong, and for which long-fiber cotton is required. It takes dyes unusually well, the Mit Afifi variety, indeed, giving the écru shade to such goods as lace curtains and "balbriggan” without dyeing. Its superior market value has already been noted (see page 337).
Of all the experiments and investigations conducted by the British Cotton Growing Association,
3 W. L. Balls, as cited; pp. 1-3.
those for the purpose of developing additional cotton areas in Egypt afford the richest promise. The Gezira Plain, in the Anglo-Egyptian Sudan, contains about 4,500 square miles, consisting of a Delta formed between the two Niles ages ago by the deposit of rich alluvial soil from the Blue Nile. The whole cultivable land of Egypt is only 12,000 square miles; therefore this one plain in the Sudan is onethird as large as the whole of Egypt for agricultural purposes. Its complete irrigation would cost about three million pounds sterling, there being sufficient water in the Blue Nile, at the season required, to permit of the cultivation of a million acres without hurting Egyptian interests.*
In 1912 a deputation from the Cotton Growing Association, after visiting the Sudan, reported on the Gezira Plain as "one of the finest cotton propositions in the world"; saying that there seemed to be no reason why in the next few years there should not be raised annually 50,000 bales or more of really high-class Egyptian cotton, with the prospect of the production increasing to 250,000 bales within ten to fifteen years, and with further possibilities later on of a production of a million bales or more.
To sum up: At the International Congress of Tropical Agriculture, which the writer attended in London in June, 1914, the chairman of the council of the British Cotton Growing Association asserted that this Association had "definitely proved that the British Empire can produce the cotton which Lancashire requires. The quantity is, of course, at present small in comparison with Lancashire's total con
4 Sir. Wm. Mather, Egypt and the Anglo-Egyptian Sudan: Southampton, 1910; p. 36,
sumption, but the rate of progress we have achieved is infinitely greater than was the case in the early days of cotton growing in the United States of America."5
5 J. Arthur Hutton, The Work of the British Cotton Growing Association: London, 1914; p. 35.
NOTE ON STAPLES AND GRADES.-The "staple" of American cotton, omitting the limited special variety of sea-island cotton, with a fibre of great length and strength, varies in length from about 5% inch to about 11⁄2 inches. Every increase in the length of the fibre results in an increase in the value. This is particularly true when the fibre has a length of 16 inches or more. From that point every addition of 18 inch to the fibre adds cumulatively to the price. The trade name for the shorter stapled cottons is "upland”— from 5 inch to 1 inch in length. The somewhat longer stapled cottons (from 1 inch to 1316 inches) are known as "Gulf" and "Texas" cottons. The long stapled cottons (from 16 to 11⁄2 inches), grown in the Mississippi Delta, are known as "rivers" or "benders," because raised on the rich alluvial land in the bends of the rivers.No matter what the length of staple may be, its value varies in respect to color (white, tinged, and stained) and the aomunt of dry leaf, dust, and other extraneous matter. As this matter must
be taken out of the cotton before it is spun, and is a pure loss to the spinner, the relative amount of it in any particular cotton further affects the value. Consequently all cotton has to be separated into "grades." That grade which seems originally to have been thought to represent a fair average of quality is known as "middling." The scale of the additions to or subtractions from the value of "middling," to arrive at the value of the other grades, is known as the scale of "differences."-Marsh, as cited.
CALIFORNIA AND OTHER RIVALS OF THE SOUTH
So choice is Egyptian cotton that in some of the progressive Southern mills in America only this imported fiber is handled, although the surrounding fields may be white with the short-staple variety. sea-island cotton is grown wholly on the South Atlantic seaboard, yet during the last ten years American importations of Egyptian lint have exceeded its total production, averaging 140,000 bales annually. Recognizing the peculiar value of Egyptian cotton, the United States Department of Agriculture has experimented with it in Arizona and Southern California. Five hundred acres were planted, with profitable results, in 1912, and several thousand acres in 1913, yielding, with proper attention, a bale to the acre. Southern California has not only demonstrated, on a very broad scale, the possibility of successful competition with the Cotton Belt -by means of irrigation-in short-staple cotton, but can also successfully produce the Egyptian variety on a commercial basis.
The Imperial Valley of Southern California affords an interesting analogy to the Delta of the Nile. Having held in former ages the northern arm of the Gulf of California, it is now a huge dry basin, below sea level, with an area of a million and a half acres, into which the Colorado River has for thousands of years been pouring sediment until now the rich
alluvial soil has a known depth of more than a thousand feet. With the beginning of the present century, private enterprise undertook the irrigation of this vast sunken garden, but in 1905-'06 the river broke through its bounds, forming the Salton Sea, and threatening irreparable destruction. Through the coöperation of President Roosevelt and Mr. Edward H. Harriman the river was dramatically forced back into its old bed, with infinite labor, and then by a strange "act of God" two channels were carved through the yielding soil in such a manner as to produce just the right drainage system needed to redeem the soil from "sourness" and make irrigation effective. In an urgent message to Congress Mr. Roosevelt predicted land values of $1,500 per acre should reclamation succeed. Much of this land is now actually yielding a net return of ten per cent on a value of $5,000 per acre, 375,000 acres having water, and almost the entire valley being susceptible of irrigation.
A few acres planted in cotton in 1908 produced such effective results that in the following year three hundred bales were ginned in the Valley. Since that time the production in bales has increased as follows: 1910, 5,986; 1911, 9,790; 1912, 8,215; 1913, 22,838; 1914, 49,835.2
There are now about fifty thousand acres under cultivation, and a bale to the acre is usually produced, just as the Government had predicted; on February 9, 1915, the Department of Agriculture reported that both long- and short-staple cottons in California were yielding 500 pounds to the acre.
1 A pleasant story of the development of the Imperial Valley is told by Mr. Harold Bell Wright in The Winning of Barbara Worth. 2 Bulletin, U. S. Dept. of Commerce, Cotton Production, June 16, 1915; p. 5.