MILES – When you ask Max Kerley, owner and operator of the Kasberg Gin in Miles, what he's being doing lately, he'll tell you, “running around the clock.”

MILES – When you ask Max Kerley, owner and operator of the Kasberg Gin in Miles, what he’s being doing lately, he’ll tell you, “running around the clock.”

Kerley and his crew at the gin are literally working around the clock to get the late harvest ginned. He said he predicts the gin will make about 60,000 bales by mid-February when he expects to be finished with the ginning.

“Last year, we did 36,000 bales,” said Kerley, a fifth generation ginner.  

This year, the gins will be producing more bales, said Karin Kuykendall, executive director of the Southern Rolling Plains Cotton Growers Association. Last year, 160,000 bales were produced in this region and this year, that number is expected to grow to 260,000 bales.

“It is phenomenal,” Kuykendall said. “When we were looking at the crop in July and August, it looked like it would not be good at all.”

But the warm temperatures and rains in October “really brought the cotton back.”

“We had a million dollar October,” Kuykendall said. “It really made a lot of crops and one where we may not have had a crop.”

The late harvest of the cotton crop has really been good, and the quality of the cotton is turning out to be better than recent harvests.

“The quality overall is really good,” Kerley said. “And it is slightly above average.”

Just down the road, the Miles Co-Op Gin is also busy. Owned by the farmers who use the gin, the Miles Co-Op Gin is running 24-7. There are modules as far as the eye can see that are sitting on the property that are awaiting the ginning process. Each module makes about 10 to 12 bales of cotton.

Each year, between 50,000 and 60,000 acres of cotton is typically produced in Runnels County and about 200 pounds per acre is produced.

 “The harvest is delayed because of the wet weather,” said Dr. David Drake of the Texas AgriLife Extension office in San Angelo.  “They (producers) were waiting as long as they could.”

All of the cotton has been harvested at this point. Now it is just a matter of ginning.

But the best cotton, was the cotton that was harvested late.

“We had 85-90 degree weather in October and that made the cotton mature out,” said Steven Jansa, president of the Miles Co-Op Gin.

According to figures from the Southern Rolling Plains Cotton Growers Association, the Kasberg Gin produced 36,000 bales last year, while the Miles Co-Op Gin produced 25,000 bales. The gin in Norton produced 1,300 and Wingate produced 13,000 bales. The Elm Creek Gin in Ballinger produced 3,600 bales. The gin in Mereta was the top producer last year with 41,000 bales followed by Wall at 38,000 bales.

"Last year was an okay year,” Kuykendall said. 

Projections for this year have the gin in Miles producing 45,000 bales, Kasberg at 60,000 bales, Mereta at 66,000 bales, Wall at 70,000 bales and 10,000 bales for the Elm Creek Gin in Ballinger.

So far, quality has not been an issue either. But the prices can always be better, Kuykendall said.

“We would love to see the (price) go up a few cents,” Kuykendall said. “But with commodities, the volatility in the market is always there. But we hope the upward trend continues.”