How Has Cotton Ginning Changed in Texas?

July 28, 2020 9:49 pm Published by Leave your thoughts

The field of cotton ginning has evolved significantly over the course of the last several decades. Throughout all of the upgrades the industry has seen, the common thread has been the propensity for going bigger and achieving higher capacity, ensuring today’s machines are capable of meeting the needs of growers at larger scales who are expanding productions even into areas such as Texas’s High Plains, which are not considered to be traditional cotton growth regions.

Here’s an overview of how cotton production and cotton ginning in North Texas have changed over the years, and what you will see out of the industry today.

Larger operations, larger machinery

A representative of the National Cotton Council was quoted as saying there has been a 75 percent reduction in the total number of cotton gins operating over the last 30 years. This is largely due to the widespread closures of older, smaller gins.

The gins that still remain throughout the state of Texas (and the nation in general) tend to be the larger operations that were able to put their money toward larger equipment and increased operational capacities. Some of these gins are capable of achieving massive volumes of cotton production in North Texas.

At Spearman, TX’s Adobe Walls Gin, the owners put a $14.5 million investment into a second gin line and press, resulting in it becoming the largest cotton gin facility in the country and doubling its annual production to 280,000 bales. Experts believe that the Spearman facility could eventually reach up to 400,000 bales per year, an astoundingly large figure.

There are plenty of other ginning facilities in Texas that are in development or under construction at the moment that will have this same sort of unbelievably large capacity. So, while there are many fewer cotton gins than there used to be, those that exist are producing much more of the cotton coming out of the United States. This same trend is occurring at sites in Georgia, Alabama, Kansas and Oklahoma.

One of the reasons why these facilities have expanded the way they have is because of the change in cotton varieties that are being produced in the High Plains, as well as in Kansas and Oklahoma. Some of the cotton varieties that are most popular in these areas are shorter-season varieties that mature earlier. A declining water table was also a factor in shifting a lot of the region’s crops from corn to cotton, which resulted in an increased need for cotton gin production.

At the moment there are approximately 208 gins operating in Texas, and the expansion is only expected to increase, particularly in the coastal Texas area with the introduction of new, higher-capacity equipment. The big issue will be figuring out how to get the proper level of staffing to make sure the production stays as cost-effective as possible.

For more information about the state of cotton ginning in Amarillo, TX and the high-tech cotton gin parts being used today, we encourage you to contact the team at M.B. McKee Company, Inc. with your questions.

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