Eleven days — that’s all it took for a group of east Mississippi cotton growers to go from talking stage to a signed, sealed, and financed deal to build a spanking new $6.5 million state of the art cotton gin in Noxubee County.

Even more amazing, rather than having the facility completed for the 2013 crop, as they’d expected, they’ve been promised by equipment suppliers and contractors that it will be up and running in September to gin this year’s cotton crop.

In the late 1800s, Noxubee County was the leading cotton producing county in Mississippi. Although the bulk of the state’s production later centered in the Delta areas along the Mississippi River, growers here in the Prairie region continue to be some of the state’s most progressive, with consistently high per acre production.

Last year, some of the state’s highest cotton yields were in this area.

Although growers here don’t have the advantage of shallow wells for irrigation like Delta producers, many operate center pivot systems from catchment ponds and reservoirs, and new systems continue to dot the landscape.

Increased cotton acreage in the region is an outgrowth of the experience of area growers that, with water, the mostly heavy black prairie soils will consistently produce high-yielding cotton, while soybean yields on the same ground can vary widely from year to year.

With the uptrend in acreage came a perceived need by growers for a gin that would be closer to their fields and would offer more efficient processing of their cotton.

Stockholders in the gin represent a cross section of some of the best farmers around.

Valley Gin, once located in this area, shut down in 1982, says Jack Huerkamp, who is president of the new gin organization.

“The last year that gin operated, they were running four bales per hour. This new gin will be capable of ginning 60 bales per hour. It will rival 90 percent of the gins in the entire country, and is being built not only to handle present-day production, but with capacity to handle expected expansion of acreage.

“We’re going to have 20,000 acres of cotton this year within a 15-mile radius of this gin; that’s up from 5,000 acres just a couple of years ago. And we expect the availability of nearby ginning facilities will spur additional cotton plantings in the future.

“In addition to all the other benefits of ginning here, there will be significant amounts of money saved in hauling costs.”

Noxubee County officials who participated in the groundbreaking said the new gin will be a benefit to the county, not only with jobs, but by the turnover of money that cotton generates throughout the economy. “It’s a proven fact that cotton money turns over several times,” one of the officials said.