West Texas cotton will again be off typical production levels as the three-year drought cycle continues to take a toll on yields and harvested acreage. But the cotton in the field and just coming into gins and classing offices looks to be of good quality.

“We have some good cotton out there,” said Steve Verett, executive vice president, Plains Cotton Growers, during a recent Texas Agriculture Council tour of the West Texas cotton industry. The council is made up of influential agricultural organizations from across Texas and represents a varied array of agricultural interests.

Verett, along with representatives from gins, warehouses, oilseed producers, a cotton mill and the USDA classing office, commented on 2013 production and the importance of cotton to the region during the day-long tour of cotton facilities.

Jerry Butman, Lubbock Cotton Growers cotton gin, said the new state-of-the-art facility, completed in 2009, would likely gin about 40,000 bales this year. That’s down slightly from last year’s 49,000 but a significant improvement over the 20,000 bales the gin handled from the 2011 crop.

 

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The gin is capable of handling 100,000 bales a year and got fairly close with the 2010 crop, with 82,000. “And our gin is running better now,” Butman said. “The gin was built to handle 1,500 bales per day. This is not an average West Texas cotton gin.”

Lubbock Cotton Growers cotton gin has been in operation for 75 years and moved into the new facility in 2009.

The 2013 ginning season started with about 340 bales in late September.

Butman said cotton production has changed significantly over the past few years as boll weevil eradication and better varieties have pushed yield potential beyond what was considered acceptable a decade ago.

“We’ve seen five-bale production on subsurface drip irrigation,” he said, “and seed companies say that yields of four bales to six bales per acre will not be uncommon by 2030.”

And quality has improved as well.

Most of the cotton coming into the USDA classing office at Lubbock looks good, said area manager Kenny Day.