MONETTE, AR (KAIT) - This year's cotton harvest is over, cotton gins are cleaning up, making repairs and scaling down till next season.
In Monette the new year will bring a new season and a new cotton gin as well.
After 45 ginning seasons the stands at the Keich Shauver Miller gin are getting ready to be put out to pasture. They're going to build a whole new gin. Right behind the old one.
The groundbreaking shovelfuls of dirt were tossed and the string and 2X4's mark the dimensions at the sight of the new gin . It's time says Gin Manager Maleisa Finch to replace the old with the new.
"It just fell into place. When you see a cotton market go as high as it has and we've never seen that before. Your interest rates are down. We're at a point where we had to improve this gin."
With the market being what it was, getting the cotton baled faster makes a difference.
Dewayne Couch who supervises the gin operations says speed really counts.
"Like this year if we could have gotten cotton ginned quicker then the farmers could have probably gotten a different price for their cotton. They was really waiting to see how much they had to sell . But they couldn't do that till we had it ginned and in a bale of cotton."
It's unusual to build an entirely new cotton gin from the ground up.
Greg Fiquett is the Engineering Manager for Cherokee Fabrication. They will build and install all the ginning equipment.
"You may build one a year or one every couple of years. It's not very common." In fact Fiquett says he knows of only 2 gins that will be built from the ground up in the United States for the coming season. Keich Shauver is one of those 2.
The new gin will be about twice as big as the current facility and located nearer the warehouses to make bale handling and warehousing more efficient.
Finch, "We will now be able to go directly off the press to sample, bag, tag and it will go on into the warehouse, save us time, save us employees. Everything is going to be speeded up."
When the new gin is complete instead of having 4 stands like the current gin it will have 2 with space to add another one.
Couch, "We'll be able to put more cotton through it with less equipment and that means less repair. Where I'm repairing on 4 gin stands I'm just gonna have 2." Couch says that is one of the primary reasons to build a new gin is difficulty in obtaining parts for the 45 year old stands.
As an example of how costs have gone up. The original gin built in 1965 cost around 360 Thousand. The new compress, the machine that actually makes the bales, will cost more than that.
The new gin will be built by Owens Construction out of Malden, Missouri. They will also install all the ginning equipment which is made by Cherokee. Since it is more common to rebuild rather than build from the ground up I asked Fiquett why they didn't go that route.
"If you put the machinery we are talking about in that building it would be very tight and not be as accessible as a new larger building."
Only a few existing components will be transferred to the new gin. The new round bale unwrapper will go onto the new module unloading belt.
It will be new gin for a new season.
Finch, "We're looking at possibly late July, August that we will be able to run a few bales through. We saved some modules so we're going to be able to run those through."