The 2010 U.S. cotton crop had the highest strength average ever at 30, according to Seals. “The next closest year was 2008, at 29.6. The average could increase since the bulk of the remaining crop to be classed is in west Texas, which traditionally produces a high strength crop.”

Strength increased in every region except the Desert Southwest.

There was little change in average staple length across the crop, at 35.4, according to Seals. There was a slight decrease in staple length in the Mid-South.

Average staple of the U.S. crop has increased since 2006, also due to improvements in Texas, Seals noted. “Texas staple length had been below the U.S. average prior to that. In 2006, it jumped above the average and has stayed above the average ever since.”

The percent of cotton at base quality (41-4-34) with 3.5-4.9 mike; no extraneous matter; and strength; 26.5 or higher was 55.2 percent, the second highest ever. By region, the percentage was lower than usual for the Southeast and the Mid-South. The lower values in the Southeast were due to light-spotted cotton in the Carolinas and in the Mid-South, to high mike.

Seals reports that 50 percent of the combined Alabama and Georgia crops were at base quality or better. Louisiana and Mississippi increased their percentage from 20 percent to 40 percent. Seals said Tennessee continues to produce a very high percentage at base quality or higher, nearly 60 percent in 2010, even though the percentage declined from the previous year.

The percentage of Pima cotton at Pima grade 3 (color 3, leaf 3) and higher, was 95 percent, up a little from last year, but not as high as the previous three years. Average mike was measured at 3.8. Pima recorded the longest staple since HVI classing, at 48.2, and one of the highest ever for strength, 41.7.

The information comes from 11 USDA classing offices. The Phoenix, Ariz., and Birmingham, Ala., classing offices are no longer operating. Cotton formerly classed at the Phoenix office has been moved to the Visalia, Calif., office, while cotton classed at the Birmingham office has been moved to either Memphis or Macon, Ga.