Memo to Cotton Gins from the GA Dept. of Agriculture

Below is the text of a memo from the Georgia Department of Agriculture (GDA) Fuel & Measures Division to all cotton gins in Georgia. We are passing this information to you on behalf of GDA. If you have any questions regarding the memo, please contact the GDA Fuel & Measures Division directly at 404-656-3605.

FROM: Rich Lewis, Fuel & Measures Division Director
DATE: 4/12/16
SUBJECT: Georgia Cotton Gin Operations

The mission of the Georgia Department of Agriculture is to protect consumers, promote agriculture both locally and globally, and assist our customers using education, technology and a professional workforce. Through regulatory inspections, the Fuel and Measures Division protects consumers by verifying the accuracy of weights and measures used in commercial transactions, the quality and quantity of motor fuels, and the enforcement of grain, cotton and tobacco laws.

In an effort to protect both business owners and consumers through the fulfilment of the department’s regulatory duties, the Fuel and Measures Division tests and certifies scales for trade. This includes the certification of cotton gin scales.

We have recently received questions concerning the compensation process for cottonseed during ginning. A full inquiry was conducted, with findings concluding that there are several different means utilized to compensate producers for seed. It has been determined that all of the processes are equitable for both farmers and gin operators.

The Fuel and Measures Division would encourage all producers to work closely with their local gin operators to ensure they have a clear understanding of the process.

Extension Publications for Thrips Management in Cotton

Thrips have become an increasing concern for Georgia cotton growers. If you attended our Annual Meeting in January, or any of the UGA cotton production county meetings, you would have learned of the latest management techniques for combatting thrips. It is important to understand that thrips have always been present in Georgia cotton, it’s just that “life after Temik” has proven to be difficult in controlling damage from thrips, although there will be a similar Temik style product available for sale to Georgia cotton farmers this year. UGA Extension Entomologist Phillip Roberts pointed out at the UGA Cotton Production Workshop (held in conjunction with our Annual Meeting) that the only untreated cotton growers used to see was when a portion of a field did not receive a proper Temik treatment. Now some growers are seeing similar damage in their cotton fields that were planted without using a seed treatment or some sort of at-plant insecticide. Again, it’s not that thrips are new to Georgia, the increased damage being seen in the last couple of years is a combination of increasing financial pressures (causing growers to not use seed treatment or an at-plant insecticides), not having an easily-applied at-plant treatment (compare Temik vs Velum Total), adverse weather conditions affecting seedling growth (wet/cool planting conditions), the increase in conventional tillage (because of resistant weeds), and possibly the development of resistance to the current class of chemistries being used.

To answer all of these questions regarding thrips, a group of researchers across the Southeast have put together a great publication about thrips management in cotton. This research is a collaboration from several land grant universities, including UGA, and supported by grower-funded projects.

Click here for the publication: “Managing Thrips in Cotton: Research in the Southeast Region”

Click here for a presentation by UGA’s Mike Toews: “Managing Thrips in Cotton: Research in the Southeast Region”

Value of US Cotton Exports Declining

In the last several years there have been several articles discussing the changing US cotton export market. The most discussed topic is the amount of exports (in bales) and the destination of US exports. What has not been discussed at length is the overall value of US cotton exports and how much they have declined since the height of cotton prices several years ago.

Below is a graph using USDA-FAS data showing the value of all cotton (upland and Pima fiber of all lengths and linters & waste) from 2011 – 2015 with a two month value (Jan.-Feb.) for 2016. You can clearly see that the value of US cotton exports has declined dramatically since 2011. Going from over $8 billion in 2011 to just under $4 billion in 2015.

US cotton export value to world 2011-2015

China has been one of the major players in the world cotton market for some time. In the last 5 years China has been the number one destination for US exported cotton. The graph below clearly shows a rapid decline in the value US cotton going to China since its peak in 2012 at approximately $3.4 billion. By 2015 the value of US cotton exported to China had dipped below $870 million.

US cotton export value to China 2011-2015

Ronnie Lee Elected NCC Vice-Chairman for 2016

In early February, Ronnie Lee, a cotton producer from Bronwood, was elected as the National Cotton Council’s (NCC) Vice-Chairman for 2016 at the NCC Annual Meeting in Dallas, TX.

Lee operates Lee Farms in Terrell, Lee, and Sumter counties and McCleskey Cotton Company, a ginning and warehouse business in Bronwood. In addition to cotton, he raises corn, peanuts, pecans, small grains, hay, and cattle. He also owns RCL Flying Service, LGT Trucking LLC, McCleskey Saw and Machine Co. LLC, and Adela Logistics. These businesses are logistical companies which support local growers and their products. All of Lee’s operations are family businesses in which his three adult sons, Ron, Chandler, and Neil, are all involved.

Lee has held many leadership roles in Georgia including: Chairman of the FSA Georgia State Committee, Cotton Incorporated board member, President of Southern Cotton Growers, Terrell County Board of Education member, and Bronwood City Council member. In addition to serving the cotton industry, Lee has served on the boards of both the National Peanut Buying Points Association and the American Peanut Shellers Association.


Ronnie Lee explains his ginning operation to western growers on the  NCC P.I.E. Tour of Georgia last year.


Ronnie Lee explains cotton harvesting to congressional staffers at his farm during the 2015 GCC Congressional Staff Tour.

2016 Prospective Plantings for Georgia

Yesterday, March 31, USDA released the much anticipated “Prospective Plantings” report. This is one of many planting intentions reports, but is usually the one quoted the most. Southeast Farm Press and Cotton Grower Magazine both have good articles on overall US cotton acreage shown in the report. Here we will just discuss the acre report for GA.

Below is a chart of the prospective plantings for GA for the 4 major row crops.

GA Prospective Plantings 2016

Most reports only show the % change from the previous year. Here we present the data in actual acre change. As expected, GA growers plan to plant more cotton this year than last year, 20,000 acre more. The 55,000 acre reduction in peanuts and 5,000 acre reduction in soybeans are offset by the 60,000 acre increase in corn. Thus, the 20,000 acre gain in cotton acres shows as an overall increase of 20,000 of row crops planted from 2015 to 2016. It is important to remember that these are just the planting intentions of growers surveyed during February. Market conditions between February and when the grower actually plants can change dramatically. Anecdotal reports suggest that the soybean planting intentions number is too high. Given that corn is currently being planted and that an increase in peanuts is not likely to happen, a reduction in soybean acres should spur an increase in actual cotton acres planted.