Fiber moisture control provides timely ginning of the crop in adverse weather.
Cotton growers benefit from fiber moisture control when the gins handling their cotton use it. Losses due to unpredictable weather and growing conditions can be eliminated or significantly reduced at a gin quipped with fiber moisture control systems.
If all seed cotton entered the gin at about 8% moisture content, the need for fiber moisture control would be minimal. Unfortunately, nature is rarely that cooperative. When wet conditions prevail, a clock is ticking and a gin equipped with an advanced and powerful drying system will protect more of its growers from rotten, below grade bales than a conventional gin can hope to do before conditions deteriorate. This is because, although all gins suffer when trying to handle rotten seed in their machinery, the gin with the more powerful drying system can get a big head start when wet conditions first begin.
The biggest influence on turnout at the gin can be the drying system. Although moisture restoration systems have an obvious effect on turnout, much more fiber can be lost through weak drying in wet conditions and the subsequent loss of fiber at the lint cleaners as they attempt to clean up fiber with tangled trash. Take a close look at cotton mote bales made during wet conditions as a fast evaluation of how well the drying system is performing. A lot of fiber with the motes will tell the story every time.
Fiber moisture control protects fiber from damaging temperatures.
When weather conditions are variable and modules vary widely in moisture content, it is a common practice for gins that are not equipped with fast response sensing and control systems on their drying system to operate at temperatures well above the minimum needed to handle the fiber gently. This is to insure against chokes from wet cotton arriving unexpectedly. This means that much of the cotton being processed is subjected to too much heat. This benefits nobody, but hits the grower particularly hard as the fiber loses value due to shortened staple and strength.
Fiber moisture control protects fibers from brittleness in dry conditions.
Growers normally rejoice when harvest conditions are dry. There is such a thing as “too dry” however, and the results are not pretty. When cotton arrives at the gin significantly under six percent moisture content, the saws at the gin stand break up to 1/16” of an inch off of the fiber resulting in losses to the grower (under current marketing penalties) of over $18/bale. This occurs at gins operated by even the most conscientious ginners. When these conditions prevail, even turning off the heat completely and cutting ginning rate dramatically will not prevent the problem. Seed cotton conditioning with humid air above the gin stands is the right tool to salvage these potential losses. Although there may be cotton conditions where this tool is not even turned on, the dry conditions when it is needed pay back to the grower quickly.
Fiber moisture control maximizes lint turnout.
Applying moisture to lint cotton has obvious benefits to the grower as it impacts turnout by the amount of moisture retained by the bale. In other words, the grower is selling water for the price of cotton. As one casual observer in the deep south remarked when asked his opinion of the process, “De way I sees it, de bale sells for de same money, but dey is a little less cotton in each one.”
Is the process of moisture regain at the bale ethical? As in most things in life, motive influences the implementation and ultimately determines the case. Do mills like paying cotton prices for water? No. Do mills want their cotton bone dry to avoid this? Again, the answer is no. The grower and gin’s motive should be to provide the mill with bales that are highly desirable. Moisture is a critical component of accomplishing this. Moisture applied in an irregular manner from the standpoint of greed on the part of the grower or ginner results in little or no benefit for the mill. The economic results will follow in the return of problem bales. Let your conscience be your guide continues to be good advice in today’s cotton industry. We encourage growers and ginners to read the corresponding notes on this website as they apply to the mill from the perspective of bale moisture regain. Samuel Jackson systems use only humid air for moisture restoration, resulting in the most even conditioning possible for a great product to press into bales and spin into fine fabrics!
Questions from growers about fiber moisture control.
I hear a lot about cotton conditioning these days. Is cotton conditioning new?
No. Cotton conditioning has been used for many decades. The reason you are hearing more about it is because of the introduction of new and technologically sophisticated tools to implement conditioning more effectively than in the past. In addition, historically low cotton prices are forcing many growers to pay attention to this subject because it dramatically affects a growers profit.
Water is water. In regard to moisture restoration, why can’t I just let loose with a garden hose and spray water when I want moisture restored?
There is no arguing, it would make life simpler for all of us involved at the gin. Unfortunately, the distribution of moisture across the literally billions of fibers that make up a cotton bale has to be controlled or bad things happen like mildew, discoloration, mold, and rot. This is why Samuel Jackson specializes in the application of only warm, moist air to accomplish restoration without damage to the product we are all trying to enhance.
Every gin I have worked with has heaters and dryers in their operation, yet some gins handle wet cotton much faster than others. What is the biggest thing that makes one cotton drying system more effective than another in wet conditions?
Hot air volume. Hot air is measured in cubic feet per minute (CFM). At Samuel Jackson, our drying system designers are constantly trying to maximize the ratio of CFM of hot air to each pound of seed cotton entering the gin. The higher the ratio, the more powerful the system.
It appears to me that Samuel Jackson is charging me to take moisture out of my cotton at the drying system, put it back in again at the gin stands, and then put it in yet again at the press! Isn’t this a ridiculous see-saw?
Appearances can be deceptive. Samuel Jackson provides tools for an intelligent ginner to make the most of the gin’s capital investment in cleaners, gin stands, and the press. The cleaners work best with cotton at about 5% moisture content. A content too high will result in poor turnouts and poor grades. In dry conditions, moisture at the stands becomes critical to maintaining fiber properties, and with all dry fiber, a press needs warm moist air to press a 500 pound bale easily.