Prentice Fred was more than a little shocked when informed that he was being honored as the Texas Cotton Ginners’ Association’s “Ginner of the Year.” He figured that only a few people across the state knew about his small gin in Levelland in Hockley County. After all, he has only been managing the Long S Gin since 1994, and he hasn’t been a lifetime ginner like many previous winners. For that reason, he calls this honor one of the highlights of his career.
“It’s very humbling to win this award,” says Prentice. “It’s just a great honor. A lot of ginners in the industry have been honored through the years, and they were more deserving than I could ever be. I am very pleased to be mentioned in the same category with these men.”
Apparently, his reputation for managing an efficient gin is known in a lot of places outside Hockley County. Even though Prentice hasn’t spent his entire career in the ginning industry, he certainly understands what gins are all about. He was born and raised in the Levelland area and spent the early part of his career as a farmer. He recalls many times when he hauled cotton to the gin that he would someday manage.
Local producers eventually purchased the gin in 1978, and that’s when Prentice became a part-owner. When an opportunity presented itself to become the gin manager, he applied for the position and eventually was hired as interim manager, and later was named full-time gin manager. Prentice has gradually turned over the family farming responsibilities to son Scott so that he could concentrate on running the gin. It is a decision he has never regretted.
Like most farmers and ginners in the High Plains, Prentice has an appreciation for what it’s like to deal with the drought conditions of the past two years. Before the drought’s arrival in 2011, the Long S Gin’s five-year average was slightly above 40,000 bales per season. The output dropped off to 13,000 bales in 2011 and 19,000 bales in 2012. Lack of rain this year already has him concerned about how his producer customers will deal with yet another dry season.
“We need some rain in this area or we’ll be looking at another difficult season for farmers and ginners,” Prentice says. “We know how to maximize our water usage because I still find it remarkable that we ginned 19,000 bales last year with only about 11 inches of rain.”
Even with the challenge of dealing with drought conditions, the Long S Gin prides itself on close working relationships with the region’s producers and delivering high quality cotton. These are the things a small gin has to do to keep customers. And, since Prentice has known the farmers in the Levelland area for 30 or 40 years, it’s a win-win situation for the Long S Gin.
Prentice gives a lot of credit to his wife Sherry for his success in farming and ginning. She is a retired school teacher, and they’ve been married for 52 years. He’s looking forward to attending the TCGA awards dinner on April 5 in Lubbock. It will be a night
for a lot of reminiscing.
“It will be a wonderful time when we all get together in Lubbock,” says Prentice. “To be able to share this moment with friends, fellow ginners and family will be something that I’ll cherish for the rest of my life.”
• Lives near Levelland, Texas.
• Attends College Avenue Baptist Church.
• Manager of Long S Gin since 1994.
• Started farming in 1960s.
• Became part owner of gin in 1978.
• Gin averages 40,000 bales per year.
• Married to wife Sherry for 52 years.
• Sons Scott and Robin.