2011-04-13, Ed Hughs, USDA Southwest Cotton Ginning Research Laboratory

Club president, Richelle Ponder rang the bell to open the meeting. Charlie Yaryan gave the invocation. Richelle then led us in the Pledge of Allegiance. Paul Comeau led the club in singing “April Showers.” Then we greeted one another and learned later that Kent Evans was the mystery greeter. We had 2 guests of Rotarians. There were no visiting Rotarians. Four of our high school student guests were recognized by the President. (Pictures below:  left, President Richelle Ponder; right, Experts in Gin.) 

President Richelle PonderExperts in GinOn April 21st we will have another Happy Hour for the club at De La Vegas beginning at 5:30pm. Happy bucks were gathered from Barbra Rose Farber and Jim Scott.

The Program

ARS logoJohn Pickett introduced Ed Hughs as a native New Mexican who has 35 years of experience in cotton ginning. Ed’s presentation took us through the history of cotton ginning in America.

Speaker Ed HughsGinning, the process of separating the fibers from the seeds, began by hand picking the seeds from the fibers. This was a slow laborious process. The first ginning machine was a hand cranked device that was reasonably effective but slow as well. (In poorer countries, ginning is still done by hand cranked machines.)

It wasn’t until 1794 when a lawyer developed the Ely Cotton Gin. It was patented in 1796. The “modern gin” substantially increased the productivity of the ginning process. This allowed the per-pound-cost of cotton to drop down. The Civil War, however, slowed the processing of cotton and increased its costs. Today, the cost of cotton has come down to “cents” per pound.

The first big gins could produce 1-2 bales a day. By 1900, the gins improved capacity and produced 300 bales a day. In the early 20th century the vertical cotton dryer was created and the first in-the-field cotton picker machine was invented. Today 98% of all cotton is machine picked.

By 1980 picking and ginning could be done in the field with each machine putting out 12-15 bales a day. Today a “gentle ginning” process in the field allows for more bales with less manpower. 12 million acres of planted cotton will produce 24 million bales of cotton. Because of the worldwide demand for cotton products, there is a big export business. The top producers of cotton are the U.S., China, and India.

After the Program

The can collected $128. The 4-Way Test was recited as we closed the meeting. 

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Guests of Rotarians

Guest  Host
Livingston Nkoyoyo John Pickett

Visiting Rotarians

Rotarian Home Club

Student Guests

Student School
Kevin Schulmeister Mayfield
Tyler Gilliland Oñate
Marissa Guerra San Andres
Sean Harris Mesilla Valley Christian


Rotarian Date Club
Kim Hakes 3/17 Rio Grande
Kim Hakes 3/30 Rio Grande
Elaine Szalay 4/12 Rio Grande

Submitted by Blaine Goss Blaine Goss