On an average year, the Gulf Coast and Rio Grande Valley areas of Texas produce over 1 million bales of cotton. Gross revenues average over a quarter of a billion dollars. Cotton is obviously big business in South Texas.

Each year the Corpus Christi Cotton Exchange gives an award of $1,500 to the grower who harvests and gins the first bale in the Coastal Bend area.

The bale is then auctioned to bidders from area agri-businesses at the “First Bale Party,” usually in July. Proceeds from the auction and from other contributions are used to fund seven $1,000-per-year scholarships. The scholarships are awarded each year to area students interested in agriculture.

This year, the producer of the first bale and winner of the $1,500 award was Dewey Lawhon of Bishop. Lawhon, who has farms in both Nueces and San Patricio counties, usually grows cotton and grain.

The cotton for this bale came from a farm in San Patricio County west of Odem. The cotton variety is FiberMax 958, and was ginned June 24 at Gulf Coast Cooperative by general manager Jim Massey and gin manager Randy Freudenrich.

The First Bale Auction was Saturday, July 27, and sponsors said it was again a “great success.” Area businesses and individuals raised over $7,750 for the CCCE Scholarship Fund. The bale sold to Tom Kesterson, with ITW/Signode, for $1,200.

Cotton Exchange President David Wyatt expressed his thanks to Harvey Buehring, Nueces County Extension agent, for his services as auctioneer.

This year's scholarship recipients include:

  • Kristen Wilson, Orange Grove, Texas A&M University, Heinz H. Molson Scholarship.

  • Clint Pargman, Mathis, Texas A&M. Mike Brown Scholarship.

  • Russell Farrow, Sinton. Texas A&M.

  • Charles Otahal, Robstown, Texas A&M.

  • Beau Schilling, George West, Texas A&M.

  • Kerrie Snider, George West, Kilgore Junior College.

  • Della Serna, Riviera, Texas A&M, Larry Porter Scholarship.

In addition to the auction of the first bale, a memorial presentation was made to the family of Larry Porter in recognition of his years of service to the cotton industry.

A presentation was made to Mrs. Marguerite Luehrs in honor of her and the Luehrs family's friendship and support of the Cotton Exchange. Ersel H. Matthews, who was recognized for his contributions and service, was given the Distinguished Service Award and granted a lifetime membership.

For further information contact David Fields at Gulf Compress, 361-882-5489.