In a year that has been far less than ideal for Mid-South cotton growers, there's a bit of good news: The USDA cotton classing fee won't increase.
“The fee will remain at $1.45,” says Larry Creed, director of the USDA cotton classing facility at Dumas, Ark.
“We've worked very hard to hold the line on our costs,” he told ginners at the district meeting of the Southern Cotton Ginners Association at Clarksdale, Miss.
Getting classing data will be easier this season, he says. “This information will be accessible via the Internet. We expect this will prove popular with our customers.”
In the Rio Grande Valley of Texas, where cotton harvest is already under way, Creed says at least 50 percent of customers in the area are obtaining classing data via the Internet.
“Letters have been sent out to our customers in the Mid-South, explaining how the process works.”
Technicians at the Dumas office are currently putting the 34 classing machines through a battery of calibration tests, Creed days. “All are calibrated for trash, color, micronaire, length, strength, and uniformity.”
Tests are run on cotton samples of known qualities; then subsequent tests are done with unknown cotton samples, and results are double-checked for accuracy by our Quality Assurance Section at Memphis.
“We'll continue this check-and-balance process throughout the season,” Creed says. Last year, about seven-tenths of one percent of all our samples were double-checked at Memphis; this year, we'll increase that to 1.4 percent.”
He says growers and ginners are welcome to visit the Dumas office to get a firsthand look at the operation and to see how cotton is classed.