Cotton Classing Office Open House

Mark your calendar, the USDA – AMS Macon Classing Office is hosting an open house. The Area Director of the Macon classing office would like to invite all Cotton Ginners, Producers, Merchants, and all cotton industry personnel to an open house for an inside look at how they grade your cotton.
Nov, 14 & 15 9:00am – 3:30pm
1100 Parkway Drive, Macon GA 31220

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Restored Cotton Gin now open at Georgia Museum of Agriculture

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On November 3rd, project sponsors gathered at the Georgia Museum of Agriculture in Tifton for the unveiling of the restored historic cotton gin in the museum’s Historic Village.  This project took two years to complete, and cost over $85,000.  All funding was provided by sponsors, including the Georgia Cotton Commission.  This event was the first time cotton had been ginned at the museum since October of 2008.

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The 1890’s era gin is steam powered, and is capable of ginning six to eight bales of cotton per day.  It will be staffed completely volunteers, and therefore not open all of the time.  We are so happy that the gin is operational again and is educating students and consumers not only about the past, but about cotton as well.  The Georgia Cotton Commission is proud to be a part of this project.

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Classing Office works hard for Cotton Farmers

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This week, Commission staff was given the opportunity to tour the USDA-AMS Cotton Classing Office in Macon.  All producers have a vested interest in the operations of the classing office, as this is where samples of every bale of cotton go to be graded.  The results of this process determine if and how many discounts are applied to the check that the farmer receives for their crop.  It was impressive to see the lengths that the staff go to to make sure that all samples are classed on par with one another.

Samples arrive on trucks from all the gins in the office’s territory (all of Georgia and Florida, plus half of Alabama).  They are then racked on conveyors and are conditioned, which means they wait some time in a climate controlled environment to make sure that the temperature, humidity, and moisture levels in the air around the samples is the same.  The samples then head into another room where classers, in a very quick fashion, pull “beards” off of each side of the sample and run it through an APHIS machine where the strength, staple length, fiber diameter, and fiber uniformity are tested.  After this, another amount of cotton is taken and ran through another machine that photographs the cotton from all sides to determine the color.  This all happens in roughly 45 seconds.  Periodically throughout the day, checks are ran on the machines to make sure that everything is working correctly.  After this, the samples are put back on racks and ran into another room where another group of inspectors pull the samples apart to determine if there is excess grass or bark.  The average classer runs through 75 samples per hour, which explains how the office can run through the samples of over 30,000 bales in a 24 hour period.

It was very impressive the emphasis that the staff puts on training and uniformity.  One comment made from USDA staff at the office was on plastic in the samples, which has been discussed in our media before.  If possible, producers should use the practices mentioned in this article.  The main carry home point from our visit with the Classing Office is that producer’s cotton is in good hands with the staff at the Macon Cotton Classing Office.

Georgia Grown & Sewn T-shirts

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The Georgia Cotton Commission, in partnership with the Georgia Department of Agriculture and Georgia Grown, unveiled a new line of Georgia Grown T-Shirts grown and sewn locally in Georgia during the 40th Annual Sunbelt Ag Expo in Moultrie, Georgia.

“The Georgia Cotton Commission is proud to work with Commissioner Black to showcase the quality cotton grown by our hard working Georgia cotton farmers,” said Georgia Cotton Commission Chairman Bart Davis.
The 100 percent cotton shirts are sourced from South Georgia farmers, including Al and Rob Merritt from Wray, Georgia. The cotton was ginned at Osceola Cotton Company in Irwin County, Georgia. Platinum Sportswear receives the finished fabric and sews the shirts at their facility in Wilkes County, Georgia. The entire process is completed within the 600 mile radius. Georgia Grown has partnered with local screen printers, including the Georgia Industries for the Blind, to complete the design process for local businesses and organizations. All of the shirts are completely customizable and feature a 100% Georgia Grown cotton tag.


“With the largest row crop industry in this state being cotton, it is an honor to present 100 percent cotton shirts grown and sewn in Georgia,” said Georgia Agriculture Commissioner Gary W. Black. “We are thrilled to identify a transparent supply chain to produce a high quality, Georgia-made product that consumers will be proud to wear.” 


The 100% Georgia Grown shirts will be offered as a wholesale option to outside screen printers and shirt retailers. The estimated wholesale price of each shirt will be comparable to other high quality T-shirts. For information on ordering shirts, please contact Georgia Grown at (404) 656-3680 or mathew.kulinski@agr.georgia.gov. For more information on the Georgia Cotton Commission, please visit us at www.georgiacottoncommission.org or call us at (478) 988-4235.

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Keep it Pure and Clean in 2017

As growers start the harvest season, it is important to remind them to “keep it clean and pure” this year.  Over the past few years, the reputation that the American cotton grower has worked hard to earn has been challenged by contamination of the crop by a variety of foreign materials, including plastic.  Producers have to be vigilant to make sure to keep contaminants out of their cotton.  There have been reports of bales being sent back to gins, and customers moving elsewhere because of plastic contamination.  The cotton industry is committed to improving this situation for all along the cotton supply chain.

Foreign materials are simply anything but lint and seed that is mixed into the cotton during harvest or during/after processing.  They can range from bark to plastic bags to bale wrap.  Not only can foreign material inadvertently make it into yarns and fabrics, but they can also degrade the crop.  These things can very easily be taken in by harvesting equipment, and it is easier to prevent contamination than it is to remove contaminants from baled or ginned cotton.

Before harvest, growers must educate employees by creating a foreign materials watch list, and posting that list in automobiles and tractor/sprayer/picker cabs.  Once that education is complete, workers can then identify and abate any potential contaminants in the field by stopping what they are doing to remove the foreign materials in the field.  It is just as imperative to start the harvest season with clean equipment.  For growers who use the new picker/balers, it is important to make sure that the equipment is not rubbing or puncturing the bale wrap and that the wrap is adhering in the correct places, as to not have any yellow or pink plastic lodged in the cotton.  Transport bales at a height above the cotton stalks and place them at a flat, clean spot with a little bit of space between them.

Ginners and warehouses also need to take precautions.  These entities need to start the season clean and keep their employees educated on how to prevent contamination and the importance of preventing it.  Areas in the process that are more susceptible to contamination are transporting bales/modules and removing bale wrap.  It is also important to make sure that grease, oil, and other similar product spills on the floors where cotton is handled are cleaned up thoroughly.

While these tips seem simple, they are very important in keeping our cotton contamination free this year.  Following these simple guidelines can help keep the high standard of American cotton around the world, and could improve access to more foreign markets.  For more information about this topic and others, please contact the Georgia Contact Commission at www.georgiacottoncommission.org or (478) 988-4235.

Sills Joins Georgia Cotton Commission

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The Georgia Cotton Commission is pleased to announce that Taylor Sills had joined the commission staff as Director of Public Affairs.  Sills previously worked as the Young Farmer Coordinator at Georgia Farm Bureau.  In this role, Sills coordinated activities to support, promote, and encourage Young Farmers within Georgia Farm Bureau.  He also served GFB as a Marketing Specialist in the Commodity/Marketing department where he assisted producers in marketing grains and oilseeds as well as sourceing feed ingredients.  In his new role at the Georgia Cotton Commission, Sills will develop communication, outreach, and public relations programs for both cotton growers and consumers.

Sills is a native of Eatonton and received a Bachelor of Science in Agriculture from the University of Georgia where he majored in Agricultural & Applied Economics.  He also received an Associate of Science from Abraham Baldwin Agricultural College in Agribusiness & Agricultural Economics.  While at UGA, he worked as a Congressional Agricultural Fellow for United States Senator Johnny Isakson.  After graduation, Sills worked for the Georgia Federal-State Inspection Service before going to GFB.  He and his wife, the former Jessica Sanders, live in Macon.

The Georgia Cotton Commission is a producer-funded organization located in Perry, Georgia. The Commission began in 1965. Georgia cotton producers pay an assessment enabling the Commission to invest in programs of research, promotion, and education on behalf of all cotton producers of Georgia. For more information about the Georgia Cotton Commission please call 478-988-4235 or on the web at www.georgiacottoncommission.org.

1.35 Million Acres of Cotton in GA

In this week’s Georgia Cotton Commission update we will discuss the USDA NASS June plantings report. The June report from NASS has Georgia planting 1.35 million acres of cotton this year and 850,000 acres of peanuts. This is a 14% increase in cotton acreage (170,000) and an 18% increase in peanut acreage (130,000). Those increases in acreage total 300,000 acres. A reduction of corn by 40,000 acres and a reduction in soybeans of 80,000 still shows Georgia planting a total of 180,000 more acres of row crops this year versus last year. Most of this increase can be seen in a relatively stable peanut market and, until just a few weeks ago, a much stronger cotton market this year versus 2015 and 2016. With an insurance price of 73 cent set for the 2017 cotton crop, it was widely expected that cotton acreage would increase this year. Total US cotton plantings increased from 10 million acres to 12 million this year. For more info, visit our ‘GA Cotton Stats’ page at GeorgiaCottonCommission.org.

GEORGIA PLANTED ACRES 2014 2015 2016 2017  ’16 to ’17 difference % change
Cotton    1,380,000    1,130,000    1,180,000    1,350,000                       170,000 14%
Peanuts       600,000       785,000       720,000       850,000                       130,000 18%
Corn       350,000       330,000       410,000       370,000                        (40,000) -10%
Soybeans       300,000       325,000       260,000       180,000                        (80,000) -31%
Sorghum         40,000         50,000         20,000         20,000                                  – 0%
total   2,670,000   2,620,000   2,590,000   2,770,000                       180,000 7%
Source; USDA NASS Southern Region Plantings, June 2017

Georgia Cotton Commission Approves Budget, Davis Elected Chairman

At its June 28th meeting, the Georgia Cotton Commission approved its budget for fiscal year 2018 (FY18) that starts July 1st. Along with supporting cotton industry organizations such as the National Cotton Council and Southern Cotton Growers, the FY18 budget includes $645,000 for cotton research. These research projects cover all aspects of cotton production including cotton breeding, variety testing, weed science, entomology, pathology, and engineering. The Commission’s research program also includes a grant for continued support of the UGA Cotton Team’s extension activities. A list of current and past research projects can be found on the Commission website at www.GeorgiaCottonCommission.org.

Also at its June 28th meeting, the Commission elected Bart Davis of Colquitt County as Chairman and Matt Coley of Dooly County as Vice-Chairman. Davis, who was first appointed to the Board in 2012, succeeds Mike Lucas of Bleckley County who has served on the Commission’s Board since 2003 and as the Board’s Chairman since 2013. Coley, also appointed to the Board in 2012, succeeds Lee Cromley of Bulloch County who has served as a Board Member since 2011 and as Vice-Chairman since 2014.

Bart Davis operates Davis Farms, a cotton, peanut, corn, hay, and cattle operation, with his wife, daughter, and two sons. Davis is a longtime supporter of FFA and holds a State FFA Degree as well as being named Georgia Star Farmer. Davis has also been named Farmer of the Year at the Annual Peanut Festival in Sylvester. In addition to serving as the Georgia Cotton Commission’s Chairman, Davis serves as a Delegate to the National Cotton Council, a Director for Southern Cotton Growers, and as an Alternate Director for Cotton Incorporated.

Matt Coley is the fourth generation to operate Coley Farms, a cotton and peanut farm, and Coley Gin & Fertilizer, a cotton gin and peanut buying point in Vienna. After college, Coley served on the staff of Senator Saxby Chambliss, who was Chairman of the Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition, and Forestry. In addition to serving as the Georgia Cotton Commission’s Vice-Chairman, Coley serves as a Board Member for the National Peanut Buying Points Association and as Director for the American Cotton Producers of the National Cotton Council. Coley was a member of the Leadership Georgia Class of 2016.

For more information visit www.GeorgiaCottonCommission.org.

Below: Past Chairman Mike Lucas (left) accepts a cotton print from incoming Chairman Bart Davis (right). Lucas has served on the Georgia Cotton Commission since 2003 and as Chairman since 2013.

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2017 Research Review Day

In this week’s Georgia Cotton Commission update we want to discuss our Research Review Day. Each year the Georgia Cotton Commission board, staff, and Research Advisory Board spend a day with the UGA Cotton Team in Tifton reviewing research. We’ve mentioned before, but it must be noted, that the Commission typically spends about $600,000 on cotton research each year, with most of that being in the UGA Tifton area. The Research Review Day is important because it allows direct conversation between the Georgia Cotton Commission and the UGA Cotton Team on the need and direction of current and future research. This benefits both parties as the Commission gets to see exactly how their research dollars are spent, and the UGA Cotton Team gets comments directly from growers about their research projects. Topics from the Research Review Day run the gamut of cotton production: from pre-plant herbicide strategies all the way through defoliation. All of the Commission funded research projects can be found on our ‘Producer’ page at GeorgiaCottonCommission.orgIMG_6800