The Pampa, Texas, Facility Was Built To Gin 150,000 Bales Per Year.Over the past two decades, cotton acreage has expanded significantly into the Texas Panhandle. Corn has historically been a mainstay crop in this area, but diminishing irrigation capacity and rotational crop needs have many growers seeking profitable alternatives.
Gins are critical infrastructure to ensure timely cotton processing. The function of a gin is to process raw cotton from the field into three segments, including lint, seed and trash. The highest value of these components is lint, followed by seed and trash.
More Ginning Capacity Needed
Due to the significant expansion of cotton acres, ginning capacity is a necessity. Farmers cannot sell their crop or get paid until the cotton is processed. Limited ginning capacity in the area became apparent beginning in 2016, and many gins did not complete processing the backlog of cotton until March or perhaps even later. The need for additional ginning capacity in the area was recognized by many producers.
By 2017, growers with similar goals of expanding cotton acreage came together to envision, plan, finance and build the new Lonestar Gin located about 4 miles south of Pampa, Texas, on Highway 70.
The finalized plan was to construct a facility with new state-of-the-art components.The Lonestar Gin has six Lummus gin stands with the capacity of turning out about 2 bales per minute or 120 bales per hour. It also has two cotton bale presses. The ultimate goal of the facility is to gin about 150,000 bales per year.
A Farmer’s Perspective
Lance Williams, who farms about 14,000 acres of cotton in the Texas Panhandle, is one of many area farmer investors in Lonestar Gin.
“Since cotton is so new to our part of the world, we had a lack of ginning capacity in this area,” he says. “Two years ago, we sent cotton about 150 miles away to five different gins to get it processed in a timely manner. I knew we needed another gin, and a group of mostly farmer investors agreed.
“Carey McKinney, the gin manager, says he is expecting to gin 50,000 to 55,000 bales this year, which is about one-third of what we anticipated ginning. But we had a huge crop failure up here this year. The facility was built to accommodate a gin capacity of about 150,000 bales per year.”
Williams says Lonestar Gin is a state-of-the-art facility equipped with the latest technology.
“We hang our hat on that,” he says. “We spent a lot of extra money to have the gin fully automated to get the best turnout and quality from a farmer’s cotton.”
By The Numbers
The facility was financed by Plains Land Bank and was supported by 80 investors. The investors included Windstar Inc., which has a substantial and experienced ginning footprint, extending from near Plainview through the Panhandle.
The new facility sits on 5 acres. Also included is an office building and two 6,000-ton seed warehouses. The gin yard has the capacity to store about 80,000 bales.
The entire gin complex consists of 640 acres, which were obtained through a lease-purchase agreement with the city of Pampa. The agreement was established over a five-year period. An important site-selection consideration was that a fire hydrant was located on the property. It will provide critical access to water in the event of fire at the complex.
Many growers and investors with vision and faith in the future of cotton have reached a major milestone. After several years of discussion, planning, financing and construction, the Lonestar Gin has become a reality.
An open house was held Sept. 25, 2019, and about 300 people attended. The Lonestar Gin’s service area includes the Texas Panhandle and western Oklahoma. Contact Carey McKinney, Lonestar Gin manager, at 806-665-0677.
Lonestar Gin contributed information for this article.