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Web Exclusive | February 2019

Ginner is gatekeeper of cotton fibre quality

Ginning is vital to maintain good cotton fibre quality and avoid contamination. Two cotton ginning industry leaders visited the Nonwovens and Advanced Cotton Laboratory at Texas Tech University to discuss latest developments in cotton fibre quality.

As part of West Texas cotton ginning industry visit, Shankar Venkatachalam, President of Alabama-based Bajaj ConEagle, LLC visited Lubbock and TTU’s Advanced Cotton Laboratory. Shankar Venkatachalam was accompanied by Steve Moffett, General Manager of Lubbock Electric Company. They conducted hands-on experiments on the oil absorption characteristics of low micronaire cotton mats developed in the laboratory, assisted by graduate students.

Oleophilic and biodegradable characteristics of cotton mats will create new opportunities for cotton, stated Shankar Venkatachalam. Fibre strength, length and maturity play important role in the ginning process as well as influence the type of ginning method used. While cotton length is good in India, other characteristics like strength and maturity ratio make them not suitable for saw ginning. India’s ginning sector is based on roller ginning, while in the United States it is based on saw ginning. Because of good fibre strength and maturity, fibre damage does not occur in the saw ginning stated, Shankar Venkatachalam.

We have come a long way in the past twenty years with regard to the staple length in West Texas and today majority of the crop is 36 staple, stated Steve Moffett. There has been tremendous technology influence in ginning, where remote monitoring is helping with production efficiency, added Moffett. Improvements in genetics and varieties have enabled higher staple length and more yield per acre, which have enabled gins to operate at their full capacity stated Moffett.

Lint cleaning and drying needs to be enhanced in Indian gins to enhance quality commented Shankar Venkatachalam. Roller gins operate at 75-100 kg/hour/machine, while saw gins operate at 15 bales/hour/machine. It will be a paradigm shift to venture into saw gins in India as the fibre length is good enough to be processed through the saw gins at slower speeds. African gins run at a slower speed of about 10 bales/hour and have thereby improved the quality of their cotton, according to Shankar Venkatachalam. South Africa is slow switching over to saw ginning to enhance its cotton quality. 

As India is venturing into the next phase of Technological Mission on Cotton, it will be valuable to focus on the trash and quality of ginned cotton. Although Indian cottons entering gins are not moist, still it will be helpful to dry them to get cleaner cotton.   

Bajaj ConEagle, LLC has about 20 saw gin installations around the globe with 10 in the United States. Its parent company, Nagpur, India-based Bajaj Steel industries, Ltd is a leader in roller gin technology and sells about 6000 roller gins per year in India and East Africa.     
By: Seshadri Ramkumar, Texas Tech University, USA
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