CONTAMINATION…It’s an ugly word (you’ll hear it a lot in this article). I know it, you know it and the U.S. cotton industry has done a GREAT job over the years reducing contamination to the point that it is almost non-existent.
That is a wonderful accomplishment, but it’s also an opportunity to become complacent. We cannot let that happen.
Farmers and ginners both have roles to play in keeping contamination out of the cotton that is shipped to domestic and foreign mills alike. Material such as poly rope or twine, plastic from module wraps, plastic from groundcover, rubber, plastic bags and the like have found their way into cotton over the years. Even today, there are a few (very few, but a few) reports of these things getting into cotton during the harvest and ginning process. It is incumbent upon us as the collective cotton community to prevent this junk from getting into our quality product.
What can be done? Well, the National Cotton Council (www.cotton.org/tech/quality/) has developed an excellent set of guidelines for producers and ginners. Additionally, some producer organizations have sent cards and posters to farms and gins around their areas to help increase awareness and help prevent contamination from becoming a problem.
As this year’s harvest gets underway in earnest, let’s all take some time to think about the things that you can do to reduce the chance of contamination in the 2013 crop. Walk the field and find obvious sources like Walmart bags. Make sure groundcover plastic mulch from previous crops isn’t loose or can get picked up by the picker.
Use approved covers for modules and bales. Completely remove any strings used to hold down module tarp covers and make sure all module wraps or covers are completely removed before they go into the module feeder head.
These are just a few of the things we can do to keep the U.S. cotton crop the cleanest in the world.
Dusty Findley is executive director of the Southeastern Cotton Ginners Association. He resides in Dawsonville, Ga., and can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org or by telephone at (706) 344-1212.