For more than half a century, Pyco Industries in Lubbock puts an often forgotten part of the cotton plant in the spotlight. After cotton is ginned, the cotton seeds are brought in by the truckloads, sometimes 500 truckloads go through here each day carrying an average of 10,000 tons of cotton seed -- and almost every part of the seed is used.
"Out of 2,000 pounds of cotton seed, you get 320 pounds of oil, 960 pounds of mill, 550 pounds of hulls, and 150 pounds of lint, so out of a ton of cotton seed, you should only have about 20 to 40 pounds of waste and everything else is utilized into products," says President of Pyco Industries, Inc., Gail Kring.
Cotton seeds are cleaned, delinted, pressed, and most importantly, the oil is extracted to be put in foods we eat everyday.
"About 60% of our oil production goes into the snack food industry for potato chips, salad oil, dressing, bottled oil," says Kring.
Pyco caters to consumers, but their biggest priority is the farmer. That's because it's owned and operated by gins who help keep it in business year after year.
"We have 66 member gins on the High Plains of Texas and 57 member gins in Mississippi. When we take the raw material, there's seed from the gins and process it into product, the money we make are paid back to those member gins, so we are an extension of their operation further up the line into the marketplace," says Kring.
But Kring says that in recent years, the market is a tough place to be.
"The oil mill industry is a dying industry. Two and a half years ago, there were 35 operating in the U.S. Today, there are about 15," says Kring.
He says the decline in oil mills is due mainly to competition from the dairy industry where cotton seed is used for feed. But here in West Texas, there are less dairy cows and more loyalty from cotton farmers keeping Pyco running for 66 years.
"At the present time, there are not enough dairy cows in West Texas to consume all the cotton seed that's produced, so you need an oil mill so that you will have competition in the marketplace. I think Pyco has stayed in business because it's farmer-owned. In other words, we're owned by the farmers of the High Plains of Texas. We're an extension of their operation from the farm in to marketplace. They need an oil mill, they want an oil mill, and they have supplied us with the seed and that's kept us in business," says Kring.
Pyco industries helps support 120 gins and 18,000 farmers in the U.S. Here on the South Plains, they contribute more than $20 million each year to the local economy.