Delivery of contamination-free bales to our textile mill customers is a must for U.S. cotton to compete against other growths and man-made fibers.
How does contamination relate to U.S. cotton’s value?
■ Our industry recently emphasized U.S. cotton’s premium value to textile manufacturers in Vietnam, Bangladesh, China and India and will do likewise with manufacturers from all over the world attending the Sourcing USA Summit in November. All want timely delivered, sustainably produced, quality cotton that is contaminant-free. Unfortunately, incidents of contamination at U.S. classing offices are growing at an alarming rate and our customers have become more vocal about contamination. That’s why the National Cotton Council is not letting up on urging its members to strive for “zero tolerance.”
Are plastics the major contamination source?
■ Yes. Contaminants range from oil/grease to baler twine, but plastic films such as black film mulch and, more recently, round module wrap (yellow or pink) have become prevalent. In fact, USDA’s Agricultural Marketing Service has added two new extraneous matter classing codes for the 2018-19 crop.
These codes are represented by remark 71 for light plastic contamination and remark 72 for heavy plastic contamination. USDA says that when it gets a sample that classes with a remark 71 or 72, it will notify the gin of the permanent bale identification number and offer them an opportunity to come examine the sample to help determine how the contamination occurred.
What is the NCC doing to address contamination?
■ As part of its “Contamination-Free Cotton” campaign, the NCC recently coordinated a two-day “Contamination Summit.” It focused on 1) using industry resources and available technology to escalate contamination prevention education and 2) support for research on contaminant detection/removal. Producer, ginner and merchant leaders participated along with USDA and university researchers, harvesting and ginning equipment manufacturers, and representatives from Cotton Incorporated and AMS.
The NCC also wants to reach those involved in handling and processing cotton — from harvester driver to gin operator — with a new NCC-produced, comprehensive prevention training video. The video urges, for example, that harvester adjustments be maintained and checked regularly.
Round modules should be staged in a good location, in a straight line and with proper spacing so module trucks can load and unload without damaging the module wrap. At the gin, it is very important that the round module wrap is cut at the proper location and removed correctly.
The video and its accompanying printed materials also will be accessible from the NCC’s “Keep It Clean” page at www.cotton.org/tech/quality/contamfree.cfm. That site also contains a list of potential contaminants, prevention guidelines and such resources as a new poster that provides direction on using the new wrap cutting indicator available on the TAMA company’s 2018 produced round module wrap. Requests for the 24-by-18-inch posters (in English and Spanish) also may be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org.
I urge our members to make contamination prevention a priority by using these resources and by working as a team from the field to the gin. Producers must tell the gin if a module is damaged or mis-wrapped, and ginners must be extra alert to remove plastic and other contaminants before these enter the gin stand. With vigilance and strong communication, we can eliminate contamination.
Gary Adams is president/CEO of the National Cotton Council of America. He and other NCC leaders contribute columns on this Cotton Farming magazine page.