About 10 lbs could be added to a cotton grower's bale weight, thanks to a new invention by W. Stanley Anthony, an Agricultural Research Service (ARS) engineer.

The device reduces the amount of usable cotton fiber typically wasted by a gin's saw lint cleaners. The lint-cleaning stage usually results in losses of about 20 lbs/500-lb cotton bale, Anthony says.

The new lint cleaner has an additional saw cylinder to reprocess fiber normally ejected with waste. It prevents most good fiber from being removed along with debris.

The device's cleaning efficiency equals that of a standard lint cleaner. Only one doffing brush cylinder is used to remove fiber from both saw cylinders. The device performed well in field tests in a commercial gin during the 2002 gin season, says Anthony.

It could also be used to separate fibers from alternative crops such as kenaf and flax, which are used in the production of paper and linen.

China's Cotton Stocks:Drop To Zero?

The People's Republic of China could increase its cotton imports to 2.25 million bales, or 7.5% of the world's total, in the 2002-2003 marketing year, USDA forecasts.

If the forecast comes to pass — which is a big “if,” according to USDA analysts — those purchases could have a major impact on world cotton stocks. And those are expected to continue to decline in spite of projected increases in world cotton production.

Chinese imports of this magnitude would represent a remarkable turnaround in China's cotton industry, says Stephen MacDonald. An ag economist, he provided the U.S. and world cotton outlook at USDA's Agricultural Outlook Forum in Arlington, VA.

“The end of the 2002-2003 season will mark the first time in eight years that China hasn't carried surplus stocks,” says MacDonald.

He notes that China's stocks peaked at 23 million bales at the end of the 1998-'99 marketing year. That helped set off a long, slow decline in world cotton prices that didn't bottom out until the fall of 2001.

The combination of lower production in China and the U.S. and the increase in consumption is expected to reduce world stocks nearly 20% — to fewer than 38 million bales, according to USDA. The stocks-to-use ratio of 39% would be the lowest since 1994-1995.

MacDonald says USDA expects world cotton production to reach 95 million bales in 2003-'04, an 8.5% increase from the current season. Most of the increase, including a 2-million bale jump in China's production, will occur outside of the U.S. Production in the U.S. is expected to remain close to 2002's 17.1 million bales.

USDA expects U.S. cotton plantings to range between last season's 14 million and 14.5 million acres. “That's due to greater uncertainty about farm program benefits relative to a year ago and to the role of the farm program in reducing price risk.”

For more on China's increased cotton demands, see “The China Syndrome,” page 8.

Free Field Guide Available

A new COTMAN Pocket Field Guide from the University of Arkansas Division of Agriculture provides a handy reference for cotton producers and consultants gathering crop information.

The guide is a crop monitoring and information system widely used in Southern cotton-producing states. Its purpose: to summarize crop development, detect stress and assist with in-season and end-of-season management decisions. Its computer software makes it easy to enter data collected from the field and generate reports used to make management decisions.

Developed by the University of Arkansas Division of Agriculture, it gets its major financial support from Cotton Incorporated.

To register for free use of the system and to receive the software and guide, visit www.uark.edu/depts/cotman.