October’s Ag Report: King Cotton Starts his Journey to Market

With the green fields all over the Borderland erupting in puffy, white blooms, it’s the yearly reminder that Cotton is still King in El Paso County.

The fact is, El Paso County is the largest producer of Pima (Extra Long Staple) Cotton in the State of Texas. This week, El Paso County farmers began the process of harvesting the sought-after crop.

Believe it or not, the El Paso area has been compared to the Nile Valley because of the high quality cotton produced in the area. Although, El Paso is known for Pima Cotton, area farmers also grow Upland (short staple) cotton as well.

This year, El Paso County farmers planted 16,241.60 acres of cotton. This may seem like a lot, but in good water years, when full allotmentsIMG_15981 of water are given, this number can be closer to 30,000 acres of cotton.

With a dry autumn so far, weather conditions have been very favorable for cotton harvest.

Upon harvest, cotton is hauled to the Cotton Gin – defined as, “a machine for separating fibers of cotton from seeds.”  At one time, cotton gins were nearly as common as gas stations throughout the Borderland and Texas; with some towns playing host to three or four gins well into the 1970’s.

Now, the Valley Gin Company, commonly referred to as the “Super Gin” in Tornillo is now the only Cotton Gin in El Paso County. The Valley Gin meets the needs of El Paso and Hudspeth County farmers, and has received cotton from other West Texas counties as well.

Gil Jones, General Manager at the Valley Gin anticipates ginning around 40,000 bales of cotton this year, 2/3 of this would be Pima Cotton. For those who are not familiar, a bale is 500 lbs. of ginned cotton.

The Valley Gin will start the ginning process Tuesday and will gin cotton well into January. El Paso County farmers have earned a great reputation of being “top notch” producers of Cotton, and continue to prove it year after year.

This year’s cotton harvest will continue through December, possibly even into January.

Author: Orlando Flores – County Extension Agent; Agriculture & Natural Resources

Texas A&M Agrilife Extension Service – El Paso County