Plains Cotton Cooperative Association has purchased land and will soon begin construction for a new 470,000 square-foot cotton warehouse in Clearwater. The new warehouse is expected to be completed in time for the 2020 cotton harvest.
The new warehouse, a $12.5 million investment for the cooperative, will primarily serve the Southern Kansas Cotton Growers gins at Winfield and Anthony, but also expects some bales from the Next GINeration Cotton Gin at Cullison to be delivered there from time to time.
Jay Cowart, vice president of warehouse operations for PCCA, says the Clearwater location was chosen because of its location in proximity to the gins. The city of Clearwater approved an 80% tax abatement for 10 years for the warehouse.
“In addition, we wanted good access to logistics, and we thought the proximity to Wichita would make outbound transportation easier and would also increase the potential workforce for the warehouse,” Cowart says. “The logistics of getting the cotton from the gin to the warehouse can be a challenge for gins. The closer it is, the easier and more economical it is for them.
“Since the gins are grower-owned, the growers also benefit from this increased efficiency.”
Cotton acreage has been growing rapidly in Kansas at the same time that yields have increased, resulting in a steady growth of the number of bales produced, especially in the last five years. The pace of growth led to major expansions of ginning capacity at both Winfield and Anthony as well as the construction of a second gin at Moscow.
Cowart says he expects Kansas acreage to remain about the same as last year, which was a record 185,000 acres according to estimates from the National Agricultural Statistics Service. Last year also saw a high rate of prevented planting because of lingering cold weather and flooding.
“Given the current price relationship between cotton and corn, maybe we aren’t looking at an increase in acres, just staying about the same as last year,” he says.
The market for Kansas cotton is largely exports, with the majority going to Asia. It is used for making denim but is also suitable for a wide array of fabrics from knits for tee shirts to high-end fashion, Cowart says.
Construction on the new warehouse is expected to begin in June despite ongoing concerns about the COVID-19 pandemic.
“COVID[-19] has had an effect on the process, but it is not going to keep us from proceeding,” Cowart says.
PCCA’s grower-owners are also members of the Southern Kansas Cotton Growers. PCCA works closely with, and provides services to, the gins to help growers add value to their cotton.
PCCA’s marketing team begins selling cotton on behalf of its grower-owners months before the crop is planted and continues to market it throughout the crop year, the with objective of getting the best seasonal prices.
When PCCA members harvest their cotton, they deliver it to the co-op gin. The gin produces 500-pound bales of cotton lint, each with unique quality characteristics, that then get delivered to the warehouse. PCCA’s marketing team organizes cotton from thousands of bales to deliver what textile mills ordered and handles shipping it to them.