Explaining the cotton classifying office, USDA checking quality of cotton

Published: Sep. 20, 2023 at 7:36 PM CDT
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LUBBOCK, Texas (KCBD) - The United States Department of Agriculture’s classification office in Lubbock will start checking the quality of cotton from the area in a few weeks.

The classification complex on 4th Street and North Texas Tech Parkway is one of four in Texas. It receives cotton samples from gins around Tahoka all the way north of Amarillo.

The area director, Danny Martinez, said cotton classifying is important to know if the crop is in good condition.

“We have standards, and so these standards get applied to the cotton itself,” Martinez said. “So, all these measurements determine the quality of the cotton which determines the value.”

The office checks the color grade to make sure it’s a clean white cotton and checks for any trash in the cotton. Martinez said plastic is commonly found in the cotton, which may even come from how it’s transported from the field to the gin.

“They use plastic wrapping material to take that cotton to the gin, and so now if that cotton, that plastic I mean, breaks off, then it can show up in the sample, which is contamination,” Martinez said.

The cotton goes to the lab to check for the fiber quality.

“Then it goes into our lab, and our lab now is our micronaire, length, strength and uniformity measurement,” Martinez said.

The lower grade the cotton gets, the less money it is worth. Martinez said the cotton from this area is usually pretty high quality.

“Predominately in this area, it’s very high quality and higher grade,” Martinez said. “So, it just depends year from year.”

Martinez said he is expecting the first samples to arrive in the middle of October.