The cost of ginning cotton is an important concern for both producers and ginners. For the 2010 production season, ginners were asked to identify variable costs, including seasonal labor, bagging and ties, repairs, maintenance, drying and electrical costs. These six variable costs represent the largest cost factors surveyed for comparison purposes. This does not include all ginning costs.
The average total variable cost was $20.98 per bale, with seasonal labor as the largest single expense item reported in this survey. Regional variable cost data revealed that the Mid-South and Southeast region gins have the lowest per- bale cost, while the Southwest and West region gins had the highest cost. The West region gins reported the highest energy cost per bale, both electricity and dryer fuel, and labor cost.
The surveyed gins averaged more than 31,000 bales per season, with Southwest gins averaging about 40,000 bales. The highest capacity gins with more than 40,000 bales per year had the lowest variable cost, primarily due to lower labor and energy per-bale cost.
Other survey data showed that 5.2 percent of the bales ginned were from round modules, with the largest percent of round modules coming from the Southeast followed by the Mid-South. Plastic bale ties were used in 47 percent of the gins surveyed. The number of seasonal workers continues to decline as gin operations substitute new technology to reduce labor needs.
– Thomas D. Valco, PhD, USDA Cotton Technology Transfer, Stoneville, Miss. For more information, send emails to firstname.lastname@example.org or call (662) 686-5255. Additional ginning cost information is available at http://msa.ars.usda.gov/gintech.
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