Cotton gins headed for another rough season

‘We’re losing gins every year.’
Published: Oct. 4, 2023 at 5:36 PM CDT
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LUBBOCK, Texas (KCBD) - The rain we’re getting in October is too late to help cotton grow, so cotton gins are heading into another rough season. Many gins struggled last year because of weather conditions and it’s the same story for 2023.

Cotton gins across the South Plains struggled to make enough money and some didn’t even open. The general manager for Lubbock Cotton Growers Co-op Gin, Jerry Butman, said the past two seasons have been tough because drought conditions have brought farmers a smaller yield.

“This is probably the worst drought we’ve had since 2011 and it was likely a little worse than 2011,” Butman said.

The rain always helps, but it’s important for it to come at the right time.

“We usually get our average rainfall every year, it just doesn’t come at the right time,” Butman said.

Farmers harvested very little last year, which left Lubbock Cotton Growers with 80,000 bales fewer than normal to gin.

“Average year is 115 to 120,000, last year we ginned 38,000,” Butman said.

Butman told KCBD more bales means better cash flow.

“Ginning is a volume business. If you don’t gin enough cotton, you’re certainly not going to make any money,” Butman said.

This season is looking better than last year for the gin, but 2023 is far from a normal year. Butman said he’s expecting 80,000 bales to be ginned there this season.

“That’s pretty good considering the year,” Butman said. “We have a pretty good footprint; we go a long way to pick up cotton.”

Butman said gins are struggling across the South Plains and some don’t make it.

“We’re losing gins every year, infrastructure’s going away,” Butman said.

If we continue to see dry growing seasons, Butman said it could close more gins down over time which means fewer jobs for people across the South Plains. The current rainfall is bringing him hope that it will help with next season’s crop by adding underground moisture.