“ A long time ago, you’d put all the cotton in a trailer. Now the farmers put it in a module for us. We take a truck and pick it up, and then we bring it here to the gin. We used to suck the trailers off with a suction pipe, and now we use a module feeder, and we bring a big module in, and a bunch of spiked cylinders break that cotton up, and feed it onto a belt and then we bring it into the gin.”
Joe Ferrara runs the Westbrook Cotton Gin, just south of Hearne.
“And in the gin, we mix heat with it, and we bring it into cylinders to clean off the trash, separate the seed from the lint there at the gin stands, and then we have lint cleaners that comb the lint and clean the lint better, and we bring it into a press, and we press it into a 500 pound bale.”
Yields this year was impressive.
“I’m gonna say better than good, just about a great crop, depending on where your cotton was. If it was on the river, the Little Brazos, it got a little too much rain there, but higher, sandier land made some excellent yields.”
And the abundant rain reduced input costs.
“They didn’t have to spend any money to speak of irrigating, and that was probably $30 to $40 per acre savings.”
Cotton farmers are really harvesting two crops.
“The cotton seed will go to an oil mill, or it’s fed to dairy cattle. It’s also used for beef cattle, and then the burrs, we’ll give them to anybody. It’s compost for flower beds, or we’ll spread them put over fields to help build up the ground.”
And the goal is for the cotton seed to pay for the ginning.
“It’s been grading 100. They’re probably getting the best price they’ve ever gotten for cotton seed this year.”
So thanks to Mother Nature, Brazos Valley cotton farmers had a pretty good year, and as farmers know all too well, you have to have a few good years to offset the years when Mother Nature isn’t so kind.