Preparations for 2017

The 2016 harvest and ginning season has been described as the “perfect year”. All of the cotton matured right in time and received little to no rain during harvest. Not only was the weather, the quality and the timing good, the quantity was incredible! It was the largest volume of cotton ginned at Milstead since its conception.

2017 is shaping up to be an even larger crop. It has always been Milstead’s goal to create value for our producers. We know that our producers have made many sacrifices in order to grow their crop and because of that, we want to make sure that we are doing everything we can to add to the value of that crop. Not only do we concentrate on turnout (the quantity of lint derived from the raw seed cotton) but we also realize that service to our producers is incredibly important. To make sure that all of our customers are being ginned in a timely manner, we have made substantial improvements to increase the capacity of our gin. We have increased the size of our module feeder feed works which will allow for more cotton to be fed into the gin plant.

We have also increased the capacity of our number one overhead cleaner from a 6 cylinder 10 ft to a 9 cylinder 12 ft. An increase from 10′ to 20′ to our secondary cleaning overhead was made. This increase will provide much more efficient cleaning and drying of the cotton before it enters the gin stand where the lint and seed are separated.

 

When the gin was built in 1998, the founders had the forethought to build a gin that had room for expansion. With that said, we have always had room to add a third gin line if we ever needed it. This year, we decided to do that! This will dramatically increase our throughput while relieving some of the load off of our two existing gin lines.

All of these improvements alongside our existing maintenance practices will allow us to get our producer’s cotton out of the field and ginned in a timely manner.

We wish everyone a safe and prosperous harvest season!

 

 

2016 Western Ginners School

By Joey Scarborough

On May 3rd and 4th 2016, I attended the NCGA’s Gin School in Las Cruces, New Mexico. The school was hosted by the USDA’s South West Ginning Lab. The school was well attended by gin’s from across the cotton belt. Although Continuing Education drew the largest class, it was good to see that there were still people working on gaining their Ginners Certification.

I was sure that I would get the longest travel award but was upset by a couple of guys from a cotton gin in Virginia. I believe they share my opinion that its incredibly important that we get out and see how other people are handling issues in our industry. To me, it is so amazing when we participate in these gin schools and talk to other ginners across the country and see that they are tackling the same issues we are, but in different ways, some better and some not.

The Continuing Education class that I attended was very informative. Ross Rutherford with Lummus and Rick Byler with USDA gave some good refreshers on “Cleaning Cotton- Back to the Basics”. Alot of emphasis was put on gaining capacity through different sized machines. There was also some discussion regarding seed coat fragments in lint. It was stated that studies are showing that alot of the seed are coming apart before they arrive at the gin.

Safety, as always, is a large portion of any of the gin school classes. Although gins are much safer than they used to be, we cannot become complacent when it comes to the welfare of our coworkers. Harrison Ashley with the National Cotton Ginner’s Association gave an informative presentation regarding the usefulness of the RFID tags on the John Deere round modules. I really appreciated this information as this is something that I feel we will be doing in the very near future. He also went over the different mobile apps that are available to gins and producers that may help during the ginning season.

One of my favorite presentations was by Marty Northern with Northern Lucas Machine. The best part was that it wasn’t a presentation at all. Mr Northern basically walked in front of the class and said “I don’t have a presentation so yall just ask me questions.” He covered everything from VFD’s to grades of Aluminum. This included line reactors to protect sensitive electronics, lint cleaner combing ratio’s, number of wraps on a saw, and country of origin for lint cleaner saws. He was able to do this all from the hip! He drew alot of class participation and everyone appreciated his straight forward approach.

It was also good to see John Fabian at the school. John has always been a standard at the gin schools. He is very knowledgeable about air and conveying material with it. It is incredibly important to keep your air system running at it’s maximum efficiency mainly because its the largest consumer of energy in a gin. John went over proper ways to check airflow and proper designs.

The Virginia delegation and myself were treated to a demonstration of a Roller Gin, which I included a video of below. Carlos Armijo and Ernest Herrera went over high speed roller gin principles and operation. This is a totally different method than the saw gins that are used on upland cotton in the southeast. Pima and Acala cotton is ginned on a roller gin because it protects the fiber length and uniformity, thus fetching a premium for its producers. The down side is production throughput in the gin. Modern saw gins have a capacity of +20 bales per hour and modern high speed roller gins are 4 to 5 bales per hour. Alot of research is being done on increasing this rate at the South Western Gin Lab.

Overall it was a great learning experience. After I return from these gin schools, I pull out my notes and review what all was discussed. It always includes things that we can do at Milstead that will help improve our efficiency for the gin and our producers. It’s this constant evolution and refusal of complacency that sets us apart from other gins.

I would like to thank everyone who volunteers time away from their job and families to help improve a great industry by planning and participating in these gin schools. I look forward to attending next year!

 

 

 

Preparations for the 2016 Crop

Coming off a great year in 2015, we have begun to prepare the gin plant for the upcoming season. As earlier posts state, we are firm believers in preventative maintenance. This practice allows us to concentrate on getting our customers crops out of the field, ginned and off to a storage location in a timely manner. As with any time critical operation, working on a cotton gin plant, during the ginning season is incredibly expensive for all parties involved.

We have found that by starting our maintenance early in the season, we are not rushed and are allowed to be more detailed with our repairs. Much of the scheduled maintenance has been completed for this year. Here are a few things going on around the gin this week.

Our gin stands receive the vast majority of the attention. We have stacked and trained our mandrels with new gin saws. The saws we used this year are from Legacy Gin Saws and are built in Montgomery AL. Our gin rib inserts have also been replaced. This is becoming more important as certain cotton varieties are known to have smaller seed. If the proper tolerance is not kept between the ribs, the smaller seed have a tendency to bypass the rib and are carried into the lint stream instead of falling out of the bottom of the gin stand and carried into the seed house. Our gin stands will also be utilizing new brushes to keep all the lint doffed off the saws and new seed tubes to help evacuate the seed roll.

Although we pride ourselves in the most capable gin plant in Central Alabama, it wouldn’t be able to operate without very capable employees. This carries over to our maintenance season as well. Yuttachai Buathet (aka “Chai”) has been helping Leo for several years. He is very dedicated and detailed oriented. In this particular picture, he is replacing all of the chains on our module feeder.

Our specialized cotton module trucks are also held to the same preventative maintenance program as the gin plant. It is our philosophy that if weather permits, we need to be hauling cotton. In years like this past year, when the dry days are few and far between, that couldn’t be more accurate!. 

Shipments of cottonseed have been steady the past couple of months. Most, if not all, have been loaded on containers. Once we load these containers, the truck takes them to Fairburn, GA. In Fairburn, they are transferred to a train. Then they are railed to the west coast and fed to dairy cows. Some containers continue their journey by being loaded on a ship, sailed across the pacific and fed to cattle in South Korea.

I hope this gives you a glimpse into whats going on at the gin this time of year. If you have any questions please do not hesitate to contact me. – Joey

2015 Southeastern Ginner of the Year

Southeastern Ginner of the Year

Joey Scarborough receives the 2015 Cotton Ginner of the Year
Savannah, GA , January 23, 2016:.

The Southeastern Cotton Ginners Association recognized Joey Scarborough of Tallassee, AL with the 2015 Cotton Ginner of the Year at its Annual Meeting in Savannah, GA. Joey is the second manager for the Milstead Farm Group gin in Tallassee.
Southeastern Cotton Ginners Association, Inc. represents the cotton ginning industry throughout Alabama, Florida, Georgia, North Carolina, South Carolina and Virginia. For over 30 years, the organization has recognized one of its outstanding members from across the region as the ginner of the year. Association President, Kent Fountain said “To be eligible for the award, the member must meet a number of criteria and Joey certainly has met those criteria.”
Joey took over the gin in 2006 and has ginned well over 200,000 bales since then growing the gin nearly every year. In a letter of support for Joey’s nomination, one of the gin’s larger customers and owner Shep Morris stated “Having watched him grow-up and from knowing him all his life, we thought this would be a win-win for all parties concerned.” Mr. Morris went on to say, “He brought with him high ethical standards, mechanical aptitude, and an entrepreneurial spirit.”
During the presentation, Kent Fountain mentioned that Joey has been on the Board of Directors for several Years and has served as the Safety and Insurance Committee Chair for most of that time. Mr. Fountain said, “The only meeting I remember him missing was when one of his children was born”.
Joey and his wife Kami have two children and reside in Tallassee, AL.
For more information Contact: Dusty Findley, Southeastern Cotton Ginners Association.

Contributed by Dusty Findley, Southeastern Cotton Ginners Association

2015 Repaired Tarps

 

Even though no cotton has been planted in Central Alabama, the gin has already taken delivery our freshly repaired module tarps. Within a week of completing the 2014 crop, all of our tarps were sent off to be repaired. Well maintained tarps pay dividends to our producers and the gin by limiting the exposure of the harvested cotton to moisture. This is crucial to preserving the quality of the cotton in the module and also reduces the quantity of fuel needed to dry the cotton at the gin.

Here’s more information from Texas A&M regarding the benefits of maintaining good tarps.

https://www.cotton.org/ncga/upload/What-is-the-real-cost-of-a-module-tarp.pdf

 

Maintaining Equipment 2014

Leo stacking a gin saw.

After the last bale of cotton has been ginned, a much deserved “down time” is had by the employees at Milstead. But on January 6th everyone returned and began the yealy repairs and maintenance on the gin equipment and module trucks. In order to operate at high efficiencies the employees spend much more time preparing the equipment than actually running it. For instance, an average ginning season lasts about thirteen weeks. That leaves 39 weeks to breakdown machines, clean them, repair or replace parts then reassemble and test the machine. By spending the time now it allows us to get our producers cotton out of the field and ginned in a much more timely manner during the Fall.

One the maintenace items that is being performed is stacking and training new gin saws and replacing rib inserts. This insures propper seed and lint seperation. Some of the most planted cotton varieties today contain much smaller seed than varieties in the past. If the ginstand ribs and their inserts are not changed yearly, it is possible for the seed to pass the rib and enter the lint stream. If this happens the producer stands to loose seed and possibly get discounts for seed coat fragments in the lint. Milstead’s policy is to install new gin saws and rib inserts every year to limit the loss of seed and potential for lint discounts for the producer.

Installing new rib inserts.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Gins are held to very specific standards when it comes to bale size. This allows for more efficient transportation and bale stacking at the warehouse. Many gin presses have become out of adjustment and have not been maintained. Milstead keeps a close relationship with the warehouses and mills that handle it’s producers cotton to ensure that there are no issues with size or shape. Although we have seen no problems with our bales, we have taken a proactive approach and pulled all of the hydraulic cylinders out of the press to be rebuilt. By rebuilding the cylinders the gin’s press will achieve the proper bale density more efficiently. We will also be replacing the box guides to maintain proper alignment for a standard bale size.

Other maintenance for this year includes replacing air duct elbows and worn fans. It is important to maintain proper air flows as 60% of a cotton gin’s energy consumption comes from moving air.

Many other tasks will be performed on the plant this year. All of these actions are an effort to minimize downtime and make sure Milstead is adding as much value to our producer’s cotton as possible.

 

 

2013 Stoneville Ginners School

Photo from www.ars.usda.gov

During the first week of June 2013, Leo and Joey attended the USDA’s Annual Gin School at Stoneville MS. The schools are held three times during the year. The locations include Lubbock, TX, Mesilla Park, NM and Stoneville, MS. After ginners attend all three levels of classes, they are given the opportunity to become a Certified Ginner. This is accomplished by passing a comprehensive written exam, acquiring a First Aid Certification and a written recommendation from a Certified Ginner. In order to keep their status as Certified Ginners, Leo and Joey are both required to maintain twelve hours of continuing education over a three year period. Attending Ginners school every year, is not only a way to maintain their certification but also an excellent opportunity to stay informed of the latest technologies and regulations facing the ginning industry.

This year, some of the topics covered were PLC controls, Automated Packaging, Proper Handling of Round Modules, Proper Gin Equipment Adjustment, Fiber Recovery Systems and Bark Grades. Industry representatives and researchers gave presentations on these topics from a real world prospective.

Leo and Joey attend these gin schools and other informative workshops so our producers can be assured that his or her cotton is being ginned by a very capable and informed staff.

Click here for more information on the Gin Schools held across the cotton belt.

Milstead Farm Group gins its 250,000th Bale

On October 23 2012, Milstead Farm Group ginned its 250,000th bale. The bale is owned by Robert Walters and graded out at 41 Color, 3 Leaf, 33 Staple, 4.6 Mic and a 27.7 Strength.

This and other milestones would not be possible without the continued support of our customers and owners. For this, we are greatly appreciative.

2012 Gin Plant Improvements

During the Winter of 2012, Milstead Farm Group contracted with Cherokee Fabrication, out of Salem, AL, to build a Vertical Flow Drier and a square duct for the plant. The Vertical Flow Drier gives the plant more drying capacity. This allows not only energy savings by using less fuel but it also helps single lock the cotton so the cleaners can clean the cotton more efficiently. By replacing the two round ducts going from the drier to the incline with one square duct, the incline cleaner is more evenly loaded. This allows for more efficient cleaning of the cotton.

Lint cleaners are excellent at removing trash from lint but are also notorious for lint loss and fiber damage.By more effectively cleaning the seed cotton in the precleaning stage, the gin is able to use less grid bars in the lint cleaners. Thus increasing the amount of lint received from each module and lessens the amount of damage caused to fibers.

 

2012 Irrigation Projects

We offer many services to our farmers that help them increase their bottom line. One of them is our Irrigation Services. We design, sell and service complete irrigation systems. Milstead Farm Group is an authorized dealer of T-L Irrigation Pivots, ABI Hose Reels, Rainbow Water Pumps, Eurodrip Irrigation and Irrigation Components. We believe that the instalation of these systems gives our farmers not only increased yeild but also the ability to plant crops that they would otherwise not be able to without an adequete moisture supply.

Below are a few pictures of some systems we installed during 2012. If you are interested in irrigating your farm, contact Joey Scarborough at 334-727-2338 or joey@milsteadfarmgroup.com .