Ark. cotton crop shrinking as growers move into corn, soybeans
“Having to spend several thousand dollars on upgrades while facing the prospect of declining volume due to lower acreage has led to some gin closures,” he said. “This issue likely had more of an impact on the aging gins in the state.”
Going the distance
Cotton growers who have seen their local gins close also have to deal with increased distances to transport their crop for processing.
“In many cases, gins are willing to drive great distances,” Stiles said. “Driving 40 or more miles for a module is not unheard of at all. In the current environment, gins are desperate for volume and willing to stretch distances.”
In addition to transporting from greater distances, gins have also extended their seasons to make up for the reduced capacity, Robertson said.
Another idea that’s been discussed is to have the gins themselves purchase harvesting equipment for use by their customers, reducing the growers’ capital investment and thus making cotton more profitable.
A new round-module cotton picker costs at least $700,000 and is typically used just 250 to 300 hours a year, Stiles said.
“That’s obviously a significant financial consideration for any farm business, and it also requires a significant commitment of acreage of cotton to justify the purchase,” he said. “For each round module cotton picker, I think most producers are looking to harvest near 1,900 acres at a minimum. So with the purchase of the machine also comes a significant acreage requirement.”
However, while the idea of sharing harvesting equipment has been discussed, it has yet to be implemented in Arkansas, Stiles said.
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