The two-stand Bootheel Cotton Company at Matthews, Mo., might be small compared to some giant dual battery facilities, but it provides big benefits to its grower/owners, says John Bixler, one of the grower/owners.
“Our goal is for the gin to be the most profitable it can possibly be for its membership. Some of our rebates have been substantial.”
The southeast Missouri facility was originally an old E.P. Coleman gin, named after a large landowner at nearby Sikeston. “When Coleman died and the gin closed, a group of local farmers bought it in the early 1970s and renamed it Big Prairie Cotton Company,” says Doug Moore, who started his ginning career with that company in 1984.
When Big Prairie transitioned into Bootheel Cotton Company in 2004, he stayed on, and retired in August 2017. “That corporation was dissolved, and the present group of farmers who own it now purchased it in the same year,” he says.
“When we bought the gin in 2004, our goal was to earn every cent possible for the grower/owners,” John Bixler says. “So, we added bale warehouses. Then we realized we were leaving a lot of money on the table because we weren’t able to hold and market our cottonseed, so we constructed our seed warehouse. We earn the seed, the storage, and the carry in the market for the seed. We apply some of that money to the gin to make improvements and do maintenance, then divide the remaining money back in rebates.”
Doug Moore says, “I enjoyed working with the growers who were involved with this gin, and helping them to increase their profit margin from their farming operations. Growers who own their gin have a little more control over how their cotton is ginned, and what’s done with it after it’s ginned. We do everything possible to preserve the lint quality that growers bring to the gin yard.”
The grower-owned gin gives a lot back to its grower/owners, he notes. For example, it returns a per bale rebate based on the amount of bales ginned. “The stockholders get a dividend every year,” Moore says. “But the majority of the money goes back, per bale, based on what’s brought into the gin and what’s ginned. After we deduct expenses and the amount we feel we need to invest to prepare the gin for the following year, all remaining profit is given back to the producer/owners.”
The gin built a 24,000 bale capacity offsite warehouse in 2006 at nearby New Madrid. “The gin tries to get as much return from each bale as possible for the growers,” Moore says. “So, we put in a warehouse, and warehouse charges go back to the growers.”
SEED SALES TO DAIRIES
A 3,500 ton seed house is also located on gin premises. Cottonseed mostly goes to dairies in northern/midwestern states, including Wisconsin, Minnesota, and Iowa. “We sell the seed through a broker,” he says. “The dairies call a broker, who buys cottonseed from different gins and arranges for all the trucking.”
In its first year, in 2004, Bootheel Cotton Company ran the gin with its existing machinery. The following year, it replaced the two Continental 141 gin stands with two Continental Double Eagle stands, and an overhead from a gin that had shut down at Altus, Okla.
Bootheel Cotton Company gins 1/2 round modules, and 1/2 rectangular modules. In 2016, the plant ginned 17,000 bales, and was expecting to gin at least that many in 2017.
“Yields were great in 2017,” John Bixler says. “One 55 acre field of DP 1614 B2XF picked 1,868 pounds per acre. That’s good cotton! There was a lot of 1,400 pound and 1,500 pound cotton, and above. Although area-wide cotton had a little leaf issue, strength and length drew premiums.”
Bootheel Cotton Company benefits from being a member of the Southern Cotton Ginners Association, Bixler says. “Member gins benefit from the many services that the association provides — especially their outstanding safety programs.”