The best job a cotton ginner can do is to preserve the quality of cotton that comes in.

“We can’t make it better,” says Gerry Kasberg, Birome Gin Company, Birome, Texas.

Kasberg, speaking at the Blackland Income Growth Conference in Waco, told members of the cotton session audience that maintaining quality from “basket to bale” requires good communication and cooperation between a cotton farmer and his ginner.

He offered BIG Conference attendees tips to help maintain the integrity of the cotton until it gets to the gin yard.

Harvest timing is a critical first concern, he said. “Harvest at 12 percent moisture or less. You can field test moisture level by trying to snap the burr off. If it snaps, it’s ready to harvest.”

He said putting cottonseed between your teeth and biting on it is another valid field test. “If it crunches or pops, it’s ready.”

Module placement is also critical, Kasberg said. “Put modules in a smooth, well-drained location that’s as solid and as flat as possible. The site should be free of vegetation, rocks, weeds and dirt clods. The spot should not be close to overhead wires.” Modules also should be placed away from potential sources of fire.

The modules should be visible from the road and easily accessible by boll buggy and module trucks “in dry and wet weather.”

Farmers should not crowd modules close together. Insurance may require specific spacing to limit fire loss. “Place no more than 5 modules together in a group,” Kasberg said. “And make certain that groups are separated by at least 100 feet. Insurance will not be as lenient in the gin yard as they are in the field,” he said.

Modules should be uniformly packed and “shaped like a loaf of bread. Cover them to prevent moisture and wind loss. And give the harvest crew the option to throw away bad tarps.”

Kasberg sees strapping mistakes that allow moisture damage. “Putting straps on top of the module (usually two straps) creates low spots where water puddles and seeps through the tarp and into the module.”

Strapping around the module may be a better option.

Economic loss from tarp problems can be severe, Kasberg said, with losses running from 2 cents to 5 cents a pound. “In some cases, loss can be as high as $600 due to bad configuration and moisture loss in a module,” he said.

Records are important. “Keep a good record of each module and call in the farm number to the gin and the number of modules to pick up.”

Module tags should be filled in with a permanent marker. “Mark the module with non-permanent spray and put the mark and the tag on the same end.”

Kasberg said farmers should do everything possible to “protect their investment each year. Communication and cooperation is critical between the farmer and the ginner. Also, make certain the harvest crew is updated.”

Kasberg said maintaining and cleaning tarps and machinery is also critical.