MONETTE, AR (KAIT) - Unlike last year's late-starting cotton crop; This year's is ahead of schedule. With an early harvest a real possibility what does it mean for farmers and those that process cotton?
Maleisa Finch manages the Keich-Shauver-Miller Gin in Monette. Her family are long-time cotton farmers. Finch says she is seeing signs of an early harvest.
"We have seen a few small bolls brought in. I think we could be looking at this crop approximately by the 20th of September." She said, "It looks like an early year this year. If this cotton holds it looks we have a good cotton crop started. Like to see the markets come back. We've been hurt in the markets this year."
In addition to farmers other aspects of the cotton industry will be affected.
Summertime is traditionally a maintenance time at a cotton press. Here at the gin in Monette they are getting ready for an early harvest by installing a new gin stand. The Gin was brand new last year and they were so impressed with the new Cherokee Magnum Stand they are in the process of upgrading by adding another one.
The new stand will increase capacity and bale production.
Meanwhile, workers are going over the whole gin with a fine tooth comb. A couple of workers were up to their waists inside a stand while another couple of guys were cutting metal to make new shelves. Finch says this is normal activity for the off season.
"We clean up, replace what has to be replaced, like the saws. So that's what we're doing out here right now, just getting ready for what looks like an early harvest."
With the popularity of the John Deere round baler machines, farm labor at harvest has decreased. Gins however still have to augment their year-round workers since they are apt to run 24/7. Finch says she will probably bring in her workers sooner than normal, probably around the first of September.
Finch, "I will want them in here. Doing the final touch up on getting the gin ready to go. Getting everyone positioned in their jobs and get them familiar to what they are doing again."
In the warehouse a few raw round bales wait for the practice run through's and about a thousand bales still await shipping out to customers.
But will it be profitable early or not? That remains to be seen.