Long-time West Texas ginner Dan Taylor is on a mission. He encourages growers to pack their modules with as many bales as possible. “We've been trying to get producers to spend a little extra time to make sizable modules,” says Taylor, who with his wife Linda, has owned and operated Buster's Gin in Ropesville for 31 years. “Just one bale more per module will make a big difference.”
Last year the Taylors' daughter, Davon Cook, ran a printout on every customer and determined the average module for all farms. Their customer average ranged from 6.2 to 14.2 bales per module. The 14.2-bale average was from one of their larger producers so it represented a sizable amount of modules.
“Additionally, we had a gin average of 11 bales per module,” Taylor says. “What if we had raised that gin average by just one bale? Last year we ginned 100,479 bales, which would've meant 761 fewer modules.”
Bigger modules offer several benefits to growers. For example, tarping fewer modules saves producers time at harvest. “Many producers dislike how much time tarping modules takes,” Taylor says. “Also, fewer modules mean fewer modules to put numbers on, which also saves time. There's also less paper work for them to handle.
“Additionally, big, tight modules shed water better, which was proven last year. A better-built module also goes through the weather so much better than a poorly built one.
“Big, tight modules also hold together. Many looser modules fall apart when we haul them. Bigger modules are a win/win for the producer and the gin.”
Taylor is pleased with producer response to the concept of building bigger modules. “They recognize the benefits,” he says. “For example, one grower is a 40-mile haul and his modules this season are averaging a bale and three-tenths bigger than last season.”
Davon Cook, who is the gin's assistant manager and who works closely with producers, adds, “We realize that producers sometimes cannot avoid having small modules when finishing a field, and that there's a difference in burr-extracted or not. We also realize that harvest is a very busy time for them. We are just asking our customers to do their best to build big modules, talk to their employees before they start harvest, and check their module averages with us any time. If every producer averages 11 to 13 bales per module, it will make a huge difference at the gin.”
More economical module hauling.
Each year Davon runs a thorough cost analysis on the gin operation, including the cost of hauling a module. She breaks it down to workman comp, insurance, depreciation on trucks, repairs, tires, labor — any out of pocket costs related to hauling modules. The gin's cost, not allowing for profit, for hauling with its trucks last year was $85 per module.
“If you multiply that amount by the 761 extra modules due to smaller size last year, you'll see it equals a sizable amount,” Taylor says. “Carry this a step further. By raising the module average by a bale last year, it would've enabled us to own 761 less tarps, which average $70 each. That's a lot of money. In 2004, every gin in West Texas got into a critical bind for tarps because the crop was larger than anticipated.
“Bottom line, increasing the module size by just one bale saves us trips to the field, which saves diesel and time. Last year our average cost of diesel was $1.86 a gallon. Right now it's $3 plus, and it's been there since we started hauling cotton. We buy diesel by transport loads and we shop every time we buy. We buy 7,500 gallons of diesel at a time, but that doesn't last long running five module trucks.
“Helping us keep our costs down helps hold down our charges to customers. We try to pass savings back to the producers even though we're independent. If we come out better, we can pass more on.”
Buster's Gin owns 6,000 tarps and Taylor is concerned whether that many will be enough. “Half the cotton in our area is dryland, which is going to yield even better than last year, and there sure were no complaints about last year,” he says. “There's been a lot of two-bale dryland cotton pulled already. I don't think we're going to see much yield difference in irrigated cotton this year. Additionally, I see our staple being better than last year's, and that's where the money really comes from.