Certified Cotton: Quality From The Gin

igh-quality cotton textiles start with high-quality cotton. Commonly overlooked by
traditional textile mills, the process of ginning cotton plays a significant role in establishing
the quality of any cotton supply chain.

Cotton quality is not new to United States-based Samuel Jackson Inc., a long-time gin
technology supplier. Three generations of the Jackson family have focused on fiber quality research
and development work in Lubbock, Texas — one of the largest cotton-producing regions in the world.
Cotton moisture management has been at the center of the company’s involvement in improving cotton
quality. For more than 75 years, Samuel Jackson has promoted the economic and quality effects of
proper moisture management at the cotton gin. According to company President Chris Jackson, proper
ginning translates into better pricing for growers, efficiency at the gin, better customer
relationships for the merchants and better reliability for the textile mill.

In order to educate cotton buyers about the effects of proper ginning practices, Samuel
Jackson created and now sponsors the Certified Cotton Gin Program. The program helps merchants and
mills identify gins that take extra care to process bales with added value for the textile mill.

According to the program’s website, www.CertifiedCotton.com, gins play a key role in the
cotton supply chain. While some gins take special steps to address quality issues, others do not.
In the marketplace, cotton buyers need an easy method to determine the reputation and reliability
of the gins they are doing business with. Gins that promote quality also need a way to let buyers
know they offer cotton that can be purchased with confidence. Based on these market demands, the
Certified Cotton Gin Program was established in March 2006. Now, more than 50 gins meet primary
certification requirements, processing more than 2 million bales annually.

The Certified Cotton Gin Program helps merchants and mills identify gins that take extra
care when processing bales so the gin customer will not buy damaged cotton, such as that

Benefits For Mills

Like all manufacturing operations, textile mills depend on efficient and reliable production
in order to remain profitable. If processing slows or stops, the mill’s profit declines. According
to program sources, on average, bales from certified gins are of higher quality than bales from
gins that are not certified. While quality is very important in creating the best textile product,
it is consistency among bales that helps a mill’s production and profitability. Certified gins
provide consistent bales through proper moisture management in the gin. Additionally, the Certified
Cotton Gin Program promotes good ginning practices that allow bales to open to a uniform height in
the opening room, have fewer broken ties and condition faster, thereby improving processing time.
Other practices, such as drying seed cotton before cleaning, reduce neps that cause problems at the
mill. Some certified gins offer bales with recorded data about drying temperatures, moist air
variables; and incoming, after-drying, and bale moisture data. This information, in conjunction
with classing data, can help a buyer make the best decision about which bales to buy.

Certified gins follow ginning practices that provide better results than what is found at
the average gin. If a mill consistently selects cotton from certified gins, it will receive better
cotton than what it would buy from non-certified gins. “The ginning process cannot improve the
fiber characteristics of the cotton it receives,” said Neil Turner, director of the Certified
Cotton Gin Program. “If there was a staple problem at harvest, it will be present in the final
bale, too. The question buyers should be asking is, What is a gin doing to limit damage to the
fiber it processes? They can find answers through the information provided by our program.”

Gins using water spray devices can cause damage to the cotton bale, as seen on the bales on
the left.

Certified Details

To receive primary certification, a gin must:

•    not use a water spray device for lint moisture;

•    not use a lint reclaimer or any device that reintroduces motes into the
lint bale;

•    have before-mix and after-mix point thermocouples installed in
recommended locations;

•    have a contamination prevention policy that meets the minimum standards
adopted by the Advisory Board; and

•    have personnel trained on the importance of the above issues.

According to Casey Newsom, assistant director of the Certified Cotton Gin Program, beyond
primary certification for good ginning practices, Samuel Jackson offers the following five
additional categories in which gins can elect to be rated:

Gentle Drying — to protect staple, fewer neps and better cleaning;

Seed Cotton Conditioning — to provide less short fiber, longer staple, higher
strength and uniformity;

Lint Conditioning — for uniform opening, faster conditioning and processing, and
fewer broken ties;

Moisture Monitoring — for consistent moisture control; and

Pedigreed Bale — according to documented processing data.

“These category ratings provide buyers with valuable information not available elsewhere,”
said Newsom. “Volumes could be written about each of these categories, so I’ll just give a quick
example of the value in these ratings. Short fiber content is not provided by the HVI [high volume
instrument] classing system, but it greatly influences spinning performance. Clearly, mills would
benefit from having more clues about the short fiber content of the bales they purchase. On the gin
level, moisture content at the ginning point and drying temperatures affect short fiber content.
The ratings system can help guide buyers to gins that have placed an emphasis on these areas and
improve their odds at getting a better bale.”

Regarding the global reach of the program, Newsom said: “In December of this year, I will
visit China to meet with textile mills about the benefits of seeking cotton from Certified Gins.
Our website statistics tell us that Beijing is the number-one city in the world visiting our site
and there are nine additional Chinese cities in the top 50. We also have contacts in India that are
helping us develop textile relationships there. It is obvious that the cotton market is going to
continue to globalize at a rapid rate. With so many choices out there, buyers want more information
about the bales they purchase, and we’re here to provide that.

“We have already determined that the Certified Cotton Gin Program depends on the textile
mills understanding the relationship between how cotton is treated at the gin and ultimately how it
will process in their operation. If we can show mills that they will have consistently faster
processing, less waste, and confidence that they are not buying damaged cotton, they will seek out
certified gins.

“In five years, we will gauge our success by two measures,” Newsom explained. “One, we hope
to establish
CertifiedCotton.com as an everyday resource for cotton buyers,
providing them with additional information that helps them find better, more profitable cotton. The
second measure, and every bit as important as the first, is that our program becomes a conduit of
information about what mills want. Our members are eager to make mill customers happy, and we have
an obligation to help them stay up to speed on the mills’ needs.”

Buying Certified

“Textile mills looking for the benefits of Certified Cotton should express their preference
for Certified Cotton to their merchants, and if possible include it in their contracts,” Turner
said, when asked about developing a preference for certified cotton. “Merchants can refer to the
CertifiedCotton.com website for a current list of participating gins. If a mill is having
difficulty in finding a merchant capable of providing Certified Cotton, we invite them to contact
us directly for merchants who can help. I believe any mill that is serious about finding good
cotton bales should take an in-depth look at our program and put the information we provide to work
for them. Once they do, I expect they will truly appreciate the good ginning practices of our
members and become regular consumers of Certified Cotton.”

November/December 2007