No matter what size cotton crop is produced in Texas, the ginning sector can handle it more efficiently than it did a few years ago.
Those days of having gins continue to handle cotton until April may be a thing of the past.
Even with fewer gins in the state, ginners have continued to invest in technology, resulting in increased capacity. In short, they are ready for big cotton crops in Texas.
That was evident after the 2010 season, which wound up hitting the 8.08 million bale mark. Some observers had thought it might hit 9 million bales.
Russell Sutton, vice president of domestic sales for Lummus Corp., is based in Lubbock, Texas, and saw how gins dealt with the situation.
“We had pretty much anticipated a big crop last year, and our ginners were prepared,” he says. “As it turns out, it wasn’t a 9 million bale crop, but it wound up being the third largest in state history.”
Sutton says many ginners across the state had already started increasing capacity and making major capital purchases of equipment.
After going through such a season, he had a feeling that ginners would be more inclined to make major financial expenditures in ginning equipment. So far, his comments seem to be ringing true. It has been a big machinery purchase year in Texas and especially in the High Plains region.
With those economic trends in place, the situation additionally improved when cotton prices increased and more cotton acreage was planted.
“I think the feeling among ginners was pretty obvious,” says Sutton. “They saw all of these trends occurring, and said, ‘Let’s go ahead and put in that piece of equipment that we need.’”
Other examples of improved Texas ginning capacity and efficiency can be seen in the various expansion and consolidation of existing gins. The Lubbock Cotton Growers Gin was a timely addition for cotton production in West Texas. It can handle between 1,800 and 1,900 bales a day. For the 2010 season, this gin processed 82,000 bales and was finished by December.
“That gin could easily do 135,000 or 140,000 bales, if necessary,” says Sutton. “It has given us a real boost in the region.”
Other consolidations occurred when Jim Bradford’s North Gin in Dimmitt acquired Buster’s Gin in Ropesville.
Storing The Cotton
Most Texas cotton producers and ginners can remember when the state processed a huge crop just a few years ago, resulting in outside storage on airport runways in the Lubbock area.
That won’t happen again, according to Sutton, because USDA recently issued new guidelines making indoor
storage necessary if the cotton is to be loan eligible.
With the additional investment in equipment, Sutton is anticipating a lot of visitors to the Texas Cotton Ginners Association’s Trade Show in Lubbock on March 31-April 1.
Ironically, even with more purchases of ginning equipment and expansion of ginning capacity, Sutton doesn’t foresee gins adding personnel to their operations anytime soon.
“The nature of the business requires us to be lean in order to survive,” he says. “We’ve worked hard to be that way. Having said that, I can tell you that we are all looking forward to 2011 with a lot of expectation.”
Contact Tommy Horton at (901) 767-4020 or firstname.lastname@example.org.