The first bale from the 2011 Texas High Plains cotton harvest has been ginned and is now on display at West Texas National Bank in Seminole.

As part of what is a yearly tradition in Gaines County, Jeff Long with Seminole Farms, LLC, delivered the area's first cotton to Oasis Gin, Inc., Tuesday. The bale was finished at 1:15 p.m., and delivered to the bank by 1:45 p.m., where it will remain on display until it's auctioned at the Gaines County Ag/Oil Appreciation Day September 15.

Although the drought conditions are likely to force an earlier harvest for many producers, Kyle Taubert, manager at Oasis Gin, said this year's first bale isn't the earliest on record for Gaines County. In fact, he said, it's within about four to five days of the average. Last year's first bale was ginned September 7.

The bale weighed 549 pounds with a seed weight of 868 pounds, and the cotton was a NexGen 4010 variety, Taubert said.

Kenny Day, area director of the Lubbock USDA classing office, said a sampling of the cotton was delivered to the Lubbock office and they already have graded the cotton, but the official classification will be done in Memphis, Tenn., later this week. Day said this is the first bale of cotton he's aware of that's been processed in the area.