Preventing lint contamination is one of the major priorities for any cotton ginning operation. And nowhere is that more obvious than in Texas where ginners are trying to adjust to new technology.
One of those “new technologies” is the John Deere round module picker system, which is gaining in popularity across the Belt. The system uses less manpower and features equipment that can pick the cotton and then quickly convert it into a round module.
A plastic wrap is put on the outside of the module to protect it before it arrives at the gin. Ginners across Texas are re-doubling their efforts to make sure that their workers are careful in removing the plastic wrap from the round modules and avoiding contamination of the cotton.
Sid Brough, manager of EdCot Co-op Gin in Edroy, Texas, has probably processed more round module cotton than any other gin in the state. He believes that the system is here to stay and is revolutionizing how cotton is now harvested.
However, he says that extra precaution must be taken to remove the plastic wrapping and not cut it in the wrong place. As with any plastic material, Brough warns that sharp edges, such as stalks in the field and sharp objects on module haulers, should be avoided. To prevent tearing of the wrap, module truck chain and ground speeds should be synchronized.
“The plastic is easily torn and nicked,” he says. “It doesn’t handle sharp edges at all. That’s why everybody has to be aware of what’s going on. And I’m talking about the truck drivers, workers at the feeder and workers in the gin yard.”
Avoid Tearing Plastic Wrap
From the moment the modules are put onto a flatbed truck or module truck and transported to the gin, workers must be careful about not tearing the plastic wrap. When the modules arrive at the gin yard, additional precautions should be exercised to prevent any plastic from being punctured or foreign objects absorbed into the cotton before it is ginned.
The National Cotton Council, Nat-ional Cotton Ginners Association, Texas Cotton Ginners Association (TCGA) and other groups are working with John Deere to increase awareness on this issue. Last fall, the NCC sent out educational materials, including a poster illustrating the proper cutting zone on the modules.
TCGA Executive Vice President Tony Williams says the ginning industry is being proactive in its effort to educate gin workers on the proper way to handle the round modules. He says John Deere has worked with gin associations regarding the issue of contamination and recently updated its manual on proper handling and wrap remov-al for modules.
Williams believes that part of the educational process will center on telling workers where they should cut the plastic wrap when removing it from the module. He says some ginning experts have suggested that a “red dot” or “red line” be put on the plastic to show workers exactly where to cut it. Additionally, care should be given when removing the wrap from small modules because the “safe cut zone” may be at a different position.
“We’ll continue to do the best job we can to educate our gins about the handling of round modules,” says Williams. “This is new technology, and we’re doing all we can to adjust to it.”
Protecting U.S. Cotton’s Reputation
Brough believes it is imperative that gins do everything in their power to protect lint at the gin. He says U.S. cotton has a global reputation for high quality. However, he doesn’t want anything to impact John Deere or U.S. cotton’s image by having another potential source of lint contamination.
“I think we’re looking after these modules with a lot of care,” he says. “But they will only be successful if they are contamination-free.”
Contact Tommy Horton at (901) 767-4020 or firstname.lastname@example.org.