Delta growers will be paying 10 cents per bale more to have their cotton classed this fall — the result of last season's Depression-era prices which slashed income to USDA's cotton classing offices by $3 million nationally.

The classing system is financed in part by revenue from sales of loose cotton from all the samples classed each year, says Larry Creed, manager of the Dumas, Ark., office, which handles a large part of the Mid-South crop.

“Last year's average cotton price was only 24.3 cents per pound,” he told northwest Mississippi cotton ginners at the annual membership meeting of the Southern Cotton Ginners Association at Clarksdale, “so our income from cotton sales was off substantially.”

The classing fee this year will be $1.45.

“We hope cotton prices will improve and that in the future we'll be able to reduce the fee,” he said.

Over the years, the fee has varied from a low of $1.30 per bale to a high of $1.92, Creed noted.

The slight increase in the classing fee comes with some good news, however: The Dumas office has just completed installation and initial testing of 30 new HVI classing lines, so this year's crop will be classed on the most sophisticated electronic equipment now available.

“We've been putting the machines through checks for precision, accuracy, and volume,” he said, “and we'll start retesting it next Monday to be sure it'll be ready to do the best job possible when cotton starts coming in.”

More than 17 million bales were graded on the old machines.

Creed said a change in module averaging procedures will also be in effect this year.

“In the past, bales that were out of range could be sent back by producers for reclassing, at no charge. In the majority of the cases, the new values of the retested outlier bales were unchanged from the average of the module.

“So, rather than spend the time reclassing those bales, we will assign a module average to them.”

Exceptions will be first and last bales from a module, if they are different from the rest of the module.

The producer will have the option, Creed noted, of accepting the module average for those “outlier” bales or having them reclassified.

“When they telephone our automated system to get their classing data, there will be a prompt to allow module averaging. It's completely in their control: If they accept module averaging, we do it; if they don't, we'll class each bale and release individual bale information instead of averaged data from the module.”


e-mail: hbrandon@primediabusiness.com.