December 17, 2018

Wow how time flies by. It seemed like just yesterday we were fighting Hurricane Harvey cotton

Wow how time flies by. It seemed like just yesterday we were fighting Hurricane Harvey cotton, and here we are again trying to pick and gin cotton with rain nearly every day.

Your board of directors and management team studied the expected cotton acreage for this year very hard and decided that we must increase our ginning capacity to handle the anticipated planting increase. Our previous gin manager Jake Hudnall and our new gin manager Clay Whitley worked with management and anticipated what the crop might produce. A presentation was made to your board of directors on what was needed to be able to handle a huge crop in a timely and efficient manner.

Plans were made and bids were taken, and in the November/December timeframe everyone worked feverishly on a final efficient plan. Our goal was to add to our ginning capacity and create a gin that could eventually gin 80-90 bales per hour. Plans were finalized and on January 23 we started breaking and pouring concrete and erecting an extension of our Danevang gin location.

Our goal was to create the most efficient gin in the upper Gulf Coast and leave room for expansion so that nothing we put in would have to be moved for future growth. Our crews worked diligently throughout the summer.

Clay supervised all our machinery and electrical contractors to keep everyone on a timeline to be finished by August 15. This was a monstrous project, but we ginned our first bale on the new and improved Danevang in on August 13.

In this project, we took into account bottlenecks we had witnessed that cost us efficiency in ours and other ginning operations, and our main concern was to gin our producers’ cotton in a timely manner and enhance that quality of the lint and turnout percentage.

In this project, we increased the size of the gin building to accommodate more gin stands and a new press and battery condenser, along with a longer lint slide to keep a reserve of cotton coming into the pusher and tramper and the gin bale press. Instead of loading cotton outside on flatbeds during rain, we built two concrete loading docks and our finished bales are loaded into covered vans under a covered shed, which keeps gin bales totally dry on their way to cotton warehouses.

We added a fifth gin stand and lint cleaners and also put new heavy duty improved gin stand feeders on our existing four gin stands, with newer concept gin stand controllers that help the gin stands run at peak efficiency.

Because of the additional bales per hour, we also increased the size of our conveyor distribution to supply the additional cleaned cotton needed to supply our five gin stands. In this project, we also planned for future expansion by doing the concrete work to add a sixth gin stand if the time comes to increase our bales per hour even more.

We also added a new module feeder and an automatic round bale unwrapper since around 83 percent of our cotton is picked in round modules. We also added a steam roller to put more consistent moisture back in your bales after the cotton is dried to gin.

While on cotton, I must talk about plastic contamination. After ginning more than 108,000 bales, we have had 27 bales that showed plastic in the samples. I think this is phenomenal considering the number of bales we have ginned. In some cases, we noticed there was a picker problem and notified the picker to check to see what was causing the problem. Realize that plastic balloons or bags, bottles or other plastic can be the culprit also. I feel good that our early meeting informing producers and picker mechanics about this rising problem has paid off.

I also am proud of the fact that many producers have built their modules on higher ground that makes them accessible for our trucks to pick up. Many producers have actually built all weather pads or at least moved their modules to all weather pads to make picking modules up very efficient.

The ones area that we have not accomplished much headway in is in knowing and caring how cotton is picked. I continually get pictures from producers showing producers or custom pickers running at 9 a.m or 10 a.m. when cotton is definitely wet, and other pictures of pickers picking cotton at midnight or later. I have to emphasize this cotton will not dry in a module and will heat up, sweat and make more moisture — eventually the cotton will be rotten, the seed will be rotten and the grades will be BG’s, bringing anywhere from 10 cents to 20 cents a pound. There will be cotton picked like this that will not be ginnable.

We are currently collecting data on gas, electricity and labor cost per bale tied with incoming moisture of the lint and seed, and plan to have a schedule for ginning next year that will make people who pick wet cotton pay the additional cost. Our goal is to treat everyone fairly and to have the data that will support the cost associated with ginning wet cotton. Today on a cost per hundred pounds of seed cotton, it is not equitable to producers who do it right. We can gin their cotton at 60 bales per hour whereas those who pick it wet may slow us down to as few as 20 to 40 bales ginned per 12-hour shift. By capturing the moisture and cost this year, we will be able to publish ginning charges prior to next year’s crop.

We also plan to have an acknowledgement that defines our charges and practices that are covered and not covered by our hurricane insurances for our producers to sign prior to the season.

As of November 17, we have ginned 138,771 bales. Hillje has ginned 64,144 and Danevang has ginned 74,627. We estimated to be finishing ginning by mid December.

Our cotton warehouse has taken in 38,732 bales and has shipped 14,216 bales. As most of you know, cotton merchants have been very slow to move cotton this year, which has put a squeeze on all cotton warehouses for space.

On the grain side, the drop in futures has slowed producers sales, but we are very proud of our producers who contracted throughout the year and ended up with some decent prices. We are also very proud of our pools’ positions. The milo marketing pool will be closed out at a net of $6.82 per hundred weight to our pool patrons, and corn should end up somewhere over $4 per bushel net. The milo pool final payment of $3.73½ per hundred just got mailed out, as well as a corn progress payment of 75 cents/bushel.

Our corn bagging plant is going great, along with our feed mixing plant. These two ventures are adding value to our producers’ locally produced corn while helping make feed and cost of gain more profitable for our cattle customers, along with faster service.

Farm supply division sales have been good and we continually strive to have products that our producers and patrons need. Our main goal is to have the best customer service available. We also continue to brainstorm more products that our customers need, so if you know of items that we don’t carry that are needed, please let us know.

Ladies, don’t forget to stop by our Blue Creek Market. Business has been great, and if you haven’t shopped there you will be surprised at the bargains available.

Also, to allow our employees to spend more time with their families, our farm supply stores will be closed on Thanksgiving Day and Friday, November 22. Please plan your needs accordingly.

Here’s hoping for some dry weather to finish up cotton harvest, ginning and field work. Also, as always, we wish all our members, patrons and friends a Happy Healthy Holiday season and, most importantly, we appreciate your business and support.


Jimmy Roppolo