On the global stage, U.S. cotton portrays high quality, and vigilance during harvest can help guarantee that reputation.
Over the past few years, the National Cotton Council has led a campaign along the entire U.S. cotton supply chain to help keep U.S. cotton contamination free, and the efforts remain a high priority for this season.
The NCC has dedicated resources to help U.S. cotton growers and ginners avoid contamination, including a video which provides information from industry and Cotton Foundation members such TAMA, USA and John Deere. This video specifically addresses how best to handle and gin round modules while preventing plastic contamination from the module wrap.
Before harvest, NCC advises growers to:
- Create a watch list for foreign materials such as plastics (i.e. mulches, poly irrigation ditch liners and pipe), roadside debris (i.e. shopping bags, articles of clothing or other fabrics), grease or oily residues; and other (i.e. accumulated leaf, sand/dust, spindle twist, etc.)
- Inspect fields and remove materials that could be picked up by harvesting equipment.
- Thoroughly clean and, if necessary, power wash harvest equipment.
During harvest, growers are asked to:
- Use the watch list, train harvest crews and other field workers to police the fields and understand the consequences of allowing harvesting equipment to pick up foreign material.
- Inspect harvesting equipment daily (i.e. check for hydraulic leaks or grease in areas that come in contact with seed cotton, foreign materials on picker spindles or stripper rollers, etc.).
- Do not allow modules to be built or dropped at locations where potential contaminants will be picked up with the modules. Unacceptable locations include areas with standing or shredded stalks.
- Use a method to identify modules that does not require the marking of seed cotton.
Starting with the 2018 harvest, USDA AMS Cotton and Tobacco Program will implement two new extraneous matter codes for samples containing plastic contaminants. This change is being implemented in response to industry requests and concerns, according to USDA. Beginning July 1, the new matter codes identified by C&T cotton classes are Code 71 for Plastic Level 1 and Code 72 for Plastic Level 2.
USDA Farm Service Agency plans to use the “Other” (or Code 61 and 62)extraneous matter discounts for the new plastic extraneous matter codes. This is the same discount structure that has been used in previous years since plastic contaminants were identified using the “Other” extraneous matter code.