Sunday, May 04, 2008

South American Highlights #10

Golmur Cotton Gin

Join me for a tour of a cotton gin - a totally new experience for us!

This cotton gin produces only a small amount of cotton on their own land. Their work is processing the cotton of other farmers in Bahia state.

Our group, ready to see something new in Brazil.

At the Case IH dealership in town, we saw the cotton pickers being overhauled for the new season. The cage on the back would be filled/stuffed/packed with cotton to create the big bales that are packed into modules and hauled to the gin for processing. There were a few modules left at the gin so they could test all the machinery before harvest begins again.

The cotton modules come to the gin weighing 10,000 - 12,000 pounds and then begin the process of cleaning, seperating and combing that yields cotton lint. The lint looks and feels like a giant cotton ball. You can see that there are seeds and debris in this field cotton.

The plant was being retrofitted and prepared for this season's work while we were there. It would be quite the busy place once the cotton is harvested. It's in operation for about 6 months of the year in order to process all the cotton that's been harvested and contracted to them. In the plant, long air-filled tubes move the cotton from one machine to the next.

The big machinery is above ground but under the floor are just as many intricate parts and machines used in processing. Cleanliness and dust control are a big part of this operation - you can imagine the dust and how flammable it would be.

This machine has hundreds of little teeth on rotating saws that cut the seeds from the lint. It spins at a high speed and the seeds drop down under the floor and are later used to make oil or cottonseed meal for animals.

This is one of the owners who spent the morning with us, explaining details and touring us around the gin.

Bales are wrapped up in these bags. Taking pictures of personalized bags really helps me to remember where we were for sets of pictures!!

Once the cotton is cleaned and combed, it's baled up and ready to be shipped to textile factories. These bales are tightly compressed so they take up minimal room during shipping.

Baled cotton is carefully tarped and then stored in the yard until a farmer can ship it to the port and export it. The yard was nearly empty.

I didn't take very good notes so my knowledge of details about this process are lacking, I now realize. I need to buy some notes from a few people who actually wrote things down in a book as we visited these places!! And I should have probably showed you how cotton grows first but I'll do that in the next post.


  1. Fascinating, Crystal. Where do they export their cotton to? The Far East? I really often wonder if I am the only person on earth who is a little concerned re the global economy as it is today and the total dependence we now have on foreign countries for even the basics. The UK is almost devoid of any manufacturing industry today. Scary stuff. It is all about the cheapest labour costs.

  2. That's so interesting. I'm really curious about how soft the cotton was. It would definitely be neat to see how they clean and process it for use. I'm amazed at how much agriculture there is in South America. I just never thought about it. I'm so glad you two went.

  3. Wow, Crystal, what a great tour. Thank you for sharing it with us! XO

  4. WOW This is totally AMAZING and so fascinating!!! Love reading about this experience as well as all the great photographs! LOVE this! xoxo