YUMA, Ariz. - In this week's Home Grown we learn about Yuma's only local cotton gin. Not many people realize that we have one of the few cotton gins in Arizona right here in our own backyard. Just take a drive on Highway 95 towards YPG and there on the left you will see this massive two-story cotton gin.
It's owned by YUCO Gin. David Hardin, the general manager of the gin shares with us why the gin is very important to Yuma.
“Yuma is really known for its quality of cotton and it’s our job at the cotton gin to keep it that way," he said.
Yuma County grows about 13,000 acres of cotton every year. We start planting in February and harvesting in September. That's when the cotton gin kicks in.
“This is the only cotton gin we have in Yuma County," Hardin said. "This cotton gin that we are using today has been around since 1977 but YUCO Gin as a company has been around since 1963," he added.
The gin runs from September to January and produces 30 bales of cotton an hour.
“So what the cotton gin does is it cleans the cotton," Hardin said. "So what we do here is we separate the seed from the lint and then with that seed we can sell it as a bi-product for cattle feed or we can sell it back to a seed company so we can plant it the next season. With the lint what we do is we prep it for the spinning mills so that we can make clothing as in shirts and jeans," he said.
Right now, we are in the middle of repair season. This means that every year the cotton gin has to be completely taken apart and cleaned. It's no easy task.
“It’s a lot of work and so we do it every season," Hardin said.
The process to clean this two-story machine takes six months. It's a messy job but something we must do to keep up with Yuma's known high quality cotton. After the gin, Yuma's cotton goes to marketers. About 80 percent of our local local cotton stays within the United States. The rest of the cotton typically goes to China or Vietnam.