Central Valley Cooperative Gin has ginned their last bale this month and will close after more than 75 years in the business. The property is for sale and includes 73 acre of land as well as the facilities that are located at 10th and Hanford Armona Rd near Hanford. The price tag is $2.3 million.
The closure of the gin continues a trend in California that mirrors the steady decline in cotton acreage from the old days when cotton really was king.
Figures from the state Pink Bolworm survey this year show Kings County cotton growing acreage adds up to 51,260 acres as of August.That compares to around 75,000 acres in 2014, 103,000 acres in 2013, 133,000 in 2011 and 287,000 acres planted back in 1979.Statewide cotton acreage is the lowest since the 1920s.
California once had near 300 gins operating but today it’s down to just 26 in the Central Valley says Roger Isom, president of the California Cotton Ginners and Growers. Despite the decline, Isom is upbeat,
“I think we’ve hit the bottom” he says. “Growers tell me they are going to plant more cotton next next year” when there may be more water.
Isom notes that “San Joaquin Valley cotton quality is the best in the world.”
While upland cotton is definitely on a downward slide, long staple pima cotton prices and demand are on the upswing.Brandon La Mattino, gin manager at County Line Gin in Hanford says they installed a roller gin operation some years back that handles the pima variety. Central Valley Co-op, on the other hand, did not and could not process pima. “I don’t think any of gins that that installed roller gin equipment have gone out. It’s a matter of keeping up with growers plans.” But it take a major capital investment.
Cotton acreage in the Valley clearly is down for lack of water but that is not the only factor. LaMattino adds that all over the Valley field crop acreage has been converted to nut trees.
LaMattino says the cooperative structure of gins allows growers to keep all the profits within the membership. ”Everyone is an owner.”