Improving the highest quality of Georgia cotton is one of the Commission's priorities. Through extensive discussions to evaluate research needs in this area, the Commission, along with several others in the cotton research community, determined construction of a micro-gin in Georgia would effectively address this critical issue.

The micro-gin will be an important infrastructure component for cotton research in our state and region. Its primary purpose is to make possible the ginning of cotton, from Georgia's research programs, in a process closest to commercial ginning.

It will enable our scientists to identify treatments that will provide quality cotton fiber essential to the textile industry. It will be a tool to facilitate fiber quality evaluation as varieties are developed by our cotton-breeding program.

In order to meet this urgent need, a committee was assembled to determine machinery needs, finalize the design, and pursue funding for the project.

Craig Bednarz, cotton physiologist, chairs this committee and its members include research and Extension specialists; Dusty Findley of Southeastern Cotton Ginners Association, Inc.; Richey Seaton of the Georgia Cotton Commission; Al Smith, department head for the University of Georgia Department of Crop and Soil Science; and David Bridges, assistant dean for the UGA Tifton Campus. The micro-gin site is north of the Rural Development Center in Tifton. And the phase one design-and-build contract was awarded to Cherokee Fabrication of Phenix City, Alabama. When completed, the facility will include the ginning equipment, storage and shop areas, meeting rooms and a small auditorium.

The Georgia General Assembly appropriated initial funds for the construction of the proposed facility. And additional funds have been obtained from federal sources. These secured funds represent just under one-half of the $2.2 million estimated cost.

The project will be completed in phases, as additional monies are secured. Look for updates in future editions of 100% COTTON NEWS. Questions may be directed to Richey Seaton by calling (478) 988-4235 or via e-mail at gactn@alltel.net.