The storing and marketing of cottonseed can be a profitable enterprise, but there are risks involved. Gins must be willing to invest in storage and aeration equipment and commit to a high level of management for long-term storage cottonseed.
Seed from a bale of cotton varies by variety, ranging 600 to 700 pounds, and it helps to have seed scales to account for each producer’s seed contribution. Unlike most grain, cottonseed has a variable angle of repose. The angle of repose of an unrestricted pile of cottonseed is about 45°. However, after the seed has settled, the seed pile will bridge and cause difficulties in handling and storage. Belts, screw conveyors and/or pneumatics are used to handle cottonseed. However, pneumatics is the most effective way to load seed into storage facilities.
Aeration is necessary to remove the ginning heat and reduce moisture to minimize mold growth and insect activity within the seed mass. Factors that influence the design and selection of aeration equipment are: 1) the size and shape of storage facility, 2) airflow rate per ton of cottonseed and 3) the maximum depth of stored cottonseed. A safe airflow rate for cottonseed is 10 cubic-feet per minute per ton (cfm/ton). In areas with cooler and dryer climatic conditions, lower capacity aeration systems (5 cfm/ton) can be used.
Even when outside temperatures are warm, aeration fans should be run continuously to remove gin heat. Once gin heat has been removed, aeration fans should not be operated during high humidity periods of rain or fog. For long-term storage, cottonseed should be cooled to 50 to 60 degrees and have a moisture content less than 10 percent. These optimal storage conditions can be accomplished by selecting cool dry days to run the fans. Usually, no additional aeration is necessary once the seed pile has been cooled, but temperatures should be monitored throughout the storage period to prevent hot spots from developing.
Under emergency conditions, old buildings, module builders or equipment sheds can be used to store seed for short periods. Grain bags are also a good, economical way to temporarily store large volumes of seed. In any of these situations, seed should be cool and dry since no aeration is likely. Several publications on cottonseed storage and marketing can be found on Cotton Incorporated’s Web site, www.wholecottonseed.com and the National Cotton Council’s Web site at www.cotton.org.
– Thomas D. Valco, USDA Cotton Technology Transfer. For additional information, go to http://msa.ars.usda.gov/gintech. Contact Valco in Stoneville, Miss., at email@example.com via email or call (662) 686-5255. Each month Valco offers timely updates and information in the Cotton Ginners Marketplace section about all facets of cotton ginning.
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