Among the suggestions for proper handling of round modules:

·Staging modules in the field so they are properly aligned, with proper spacing between modules. “If they’re too close together, rain can cause mold/mildew growth and degradation of the cotton,” Valco says. “We recommend spacing them 4 inches to 8 inches apart to allow for air circulation and drying.

“This also helps with loading them on the module truck to keep wrap from splitting. Round modules work great as long as the wrapper is in place and integrity is sound. If they come into the gin with rips or the wrapper falling apart, it creates a new level of problems.”

·Modifying module trucks for handling the round modules is important, Valco says. “Ginners need to be sure lugs on the trucks have been modified to be less aggressive, and that feed chains are modified so they don’t cause ripping and tearing, which can introduce plastic shards into the system. Chain speed and ground need to be fully synchronized. It’s also essential to keep operators trained on proper handling techniques.”

·Round modules can be transported on flat-bed or drop-bed trucks, he says. “This system has changed the whole paradigm for transporting modules to the gin. I’ve seen 10 or more of these modules on a flat-bed truck. This is legal on Interstate highways, but it often results in modules being transported much farther, often bypassing several gins on the way to a more distant facility.

·The wrap used for round modules “is a complex, multi-layer system, which is not cheap,” Valco says. “It’s a unique container that provides both protection and support.

“We’ve identified proper cut zones for the wrappers, and with the help of the National Cotton Ginners Association, Cotton Incorporated, and John Deere, posters have been created, showing preferred cut areas. These have been sent to all gins.

“If a wrapper is cut at a wrong spot, there is a good chance you’re going to get a tail that can end up getting into the gin and creating problems. Make sure your employees are aware of the proper places to cut these wraps.”

There are several automated systems for removing the wraps, he says, “but some gins have stopped using them because of the added time required and potential misalignment, and are doing the cuts manually.” There are also semi-automated systems, which some gins are using.

In addition to plastic contaminants, the 2012 cotton crop in the Mid-South and Southeast had “extremely high levels” of bark, Valco says. “Bark was particularly high in the Southeast, and relatively high at the Memphis and Dumas, Ark., classing offices — much higher than in 2011.

“What’s causing this? We don’t really know. We’ve discussed it quite a bit, and every ginner has an idea. Many blame it on new varieties, others on the round module system, disease, weather, classing office procedure changes, etc.

“Some gins are making modifications to their system to do a better job of removing bark. We do know that stick machines do the best job of removing bark — they’re the best defense we have. If you’re letting sticks get into your gin stand, the potential for bark is increased. Two stages of lint cleaning help as well, but a lot of gins have gone to just one stage. We’re going to keep a close eye on this.”

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Rick Byler said at the Delta Council/SCGA meeting that some think the increased barkiness is related to disease, “which is killing cotton before it matures; the bark gets loose and mixes with cotton when it’s harvested.

“Some say gins are bypassing extractors. Our data show that extractor-type cleaners are best for removing bark. If you’re having bark problems, you need to be using these.”

In years past, Byler says, many gins used two lint cleaners. “Now, hardly any of them use two lint cleaners. But that second lint cleaner will reduce barkiness.”