What is in this article?:
- George LaCour, other cotton ginners facing pivotal year
- Gin workers
- Best grades in years
• Finding parts to keep gins in tip-top shape has become harder and harder due to industry consolidation.
• Gins will likely reduce shifts as less cotton comes off Mid-South farms, George LaCour says.
• Re-employing those workers after a year or more off could be difficult, especially if they’ve found work elsewhere.
AS GINNERS, we're bracing for the worst in 2013, says George LaCour, past president of the Southern Cotton Ginners Assocation. "But we have to keep a strong association to help us get through this downturn as best we can."
Best grades in years
Tri-Parish Gin ginned a little over 19,000 bales in 2012 from about 9,000 producer acres. “We had some of the best grades we’ve had in years, beautiful staple and good micronaire,” says gin manager Peggy Grazeffi.
Despite the good quality and good yields, it won’t be enough to convince growers not to move to corn and soybeans in a big way this year. Fortunately, the gin’s customers aren’t getting too caught up in the rush to grain.
“We have such wonderful producers,” Grazeffi said. “They have really supported this gin over the last three or four years. They know it’s critical that, when cotton comes back, this facility will be here. So they’ve hung in there.”
LaCour also farms rice, corn, wheat, soybeans, sugarcane and crawfish. He’s planning on cutting back on cotton in 2013, but he’ll still plant around 500 acres.
“As ginners, we’re bracing for the worst in 2013. But we have to keep a strong association to help get us through this downturn as best as possible. For years, cotton acreage was determined by the farm bill, then it was the market. In the future, cotton acreage may be determined by ginning capacity. We don’t want that.”
He believes grain prices will eventually collapse, as cotton prices did.
“There are growers who believe grain prices are going to stay high,” LaCour says. “The unreality of that is a good reason to stay in the cotton business. I have sold corn for less than $2 a bushel at the same time cotton was selling for 50 cents a pound and soybeans for $4.
“It won’t stay this way — it’s going to change. It may take a couple of years, but cotton is going to come back.”
(For more on the subject, see Cotton, peanut infrastructure being damaged by continued acreage cuts).