Ginning time for "King Cotton" - WALB.com, South Georgia News, Weather, Sports

Ginning time for "King Cotton"

ALBANY (WALB) - Cotton gins are whirring again as farmers begin harvesting one of South Georgia's top crops.

Cotton prices aren't at the record level they were earlier this year, but they're still high.

A lot of buyers are looking to Georgia to make up for record losses in Texas.

"We've been ginning now for about 3 weeks," said Doerun Gin Company owner Stacy Thaggard.

The machines at the long time Colquitt County plant are running from dawn til' dusk - separating the seed from the fibers.

Early yields are already looking better than expected., but there's still a lot of fields to be picked.

"There is a lot of late cotton in Georgia at this time. We need some heat because this cool weather we've been having is hurting the late crop," Thaggard said.

While the weather may not be perfect, south Georgia cotton fields are doing great compared to Texas. Drought conditions there proved costly to farmers. It's the worst crop they've seen in nearly a century.

Still, it's been a roller coaster year for cotton prices. It's hovering above a dollar but got as high $2 and change in early March.

"With the demand off so much, we've see it settle off into the dollar range, which is still a good price. Not many producers have ever sold cotton a dollar or over," said Thaggard.

The ginning operation is producing about 36 bails an hour. Most of it will end up overseas.

"90% to 95% of the cotton we produce with our proximity to Savannah and the port will be exported," he said.

Georgia and other states made up for the Texas losses and outpaced the USDA's export expectations. Nearly 17 million bales of cotton will be harvested in the U.S. this year.

But output of supply has outpaced demand. China is the largest importer of American cotton.

The recent drop in cotton prices is tied to strained trade relations between the two countries.

While the international market may not be stable, Doerun Gin Company still has some busy months ahead. With 40 trucks a day hauling in bails, the gins will soon increase operations to 24 hours a day 7 days a week. The last bail expected to roll off the truck in January.

Copyright 2011 WALB.  All rights reserved

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