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Contribution from the Office of Markets and Rural 

Washington, D. C. Vv March 31, 1917 


By J. G. MARTIN, Investigator in Cotton Marketing, and G. C. WHITE, Specialist 
in Transportation. 

Page. Page. 
PGROGICHION Soweto (Oc ee. 25 Soe oie Ae eS COnagOmacilities sc. ecco aaace Seca e cee 9 
Necessity for clean picking.................- Pata Pests he 0 6) Ua tenes Msp Spe dea NE Mea Ue ean eae il 
CarexomseemiCOtlomeeaat ae not se ec oe 4 | Classing Durango cotton..................-- 12 
Ginning Durango cotton.................... 5 | Length and character of Durango staple...-. 13 
Necessity for good baling and adequate cover- Marketing of Durango cotton..............-- 14 
LT) Cope ae epat reaps series MMR oeG io tes | Aa. 6 | Transportation facilities and rates..........-. 17 
Tagging, marking, branding, and weighing. 8 

In the fall of 1915, the Office of Markets and Rural Organization 
of the Department of Agriculture, through cooperation with the 
_ Imperial Valley Long-Staple Cotton Growers’ Association, rendered 
_ investigational assistance to the growers of Durango long-staple 
cotton in the Imperia! Valley of southern California in the handling, 
classing, and marketing of their product.t. The investigations were 
begun about the first of October, the beginning of the cotton-pick- 
ing season in that section, so that besides the actual investigations 
an excellent opportunity was afforded not only to examine the condi- 
tion of the Durango cotton in the fields (see fig. 1), but to inspect 
the methods of picking, handling, and storing the seed cotton on 
the farms, to study the methods of hauling the cotton to the gins, 
its subsequent ginning and baling, and its handling and storage in 
the. yards. The specific investigations made included the manner 

1 Martin, J. G. The Handling and Marketing of the Arizona-Egyptian Cotton of the Salt 
River Valley, U. S. Dept. Agr., Bul. 311, 1915. 
NotH.—This bulletin should be of interest to farmers of the Imperial Valley and others 
located in sections where staple cotton is grown, and ta cotton buyers generally . 
61187°—Bull. 458—17 it 


of marking, tagging, and sampling the bales, concentrating the 
cotton into small lots of a few bales each, and into minimum car- 
load lots for compression. 

Investigations were also made to determine the feasibility of mar- 
keting the Durango cotton direct to spinning mills at prices equal 
to those obtained by growers of staple cotton in the Mississippi Delta 
and other sections, where cotton of like staple is grown in sufficient 
quantities to interest spinners of fine yarns. This work was inaugu- 
rated through the growers’ association, which seems to be success- 
fully accomplishing the purpose for which it was organized. 

Fig. 1.—A well-grown field of Durango cotton, 


The boll of the Durango cotton is of the five-lock formation, 
slightly smaller than the boll of Mebane’s “Triumph ” or the Rowden 
varieties of short-staple cotton grown in the Imperial Valley, though 
not of sufficient difference in size to make clean picking noticeably 
more difficult. 

The Durango fiber is strong, and has already attracted the atten- 
tion of the cotton trade and spinners of fine and mercerized yarns 
in the United States. This cotton is utilized in the manufacture of 
fine goods, and for this purpose it must be free of motes and 
leaf so that the yarn may be spun evenly and be of uniform strength. 
In order to insure quick sales of cotton at good prices it should be 
picked as clean of leaf and other extraneous matter as possible. The 


cotton mills that make fancy and high-class goods are willing to pay 
a premium for clean and well-handled cotton of the extra-staple 
varieties, as less waste is produced in the carding and combing proc- 

The mills that buy staple cotton prefer the highest grades and will 
not accept cotton ef lower grades than Strict Middling until quite 
late in the season, when the higher grades become scarce and they are 
forced to use a small quantity of Middling, in spite of the fact that 
all the grades by that time have been lowered by the effects of frost, 
which kills the foliage of the cotton plants. The dried leaves break 
up and adhere to the cotton as it is picked. It is a well-known fact 
that after frost has killed the plants the picker finds it difficult to 
gather the cotton in a clean condition. 

The lower grades of staple cotton are difficult to sell on a staple 
basis. They are usually bought by spinning mills, which make cer- 
tain kinds of goods that ordinarily require staple cotton to give the 
cloth strength, but which need not be of the finest quality. When the 
goods are intended for a use for which a showy appearance is not 
necessary, they can be made from low-grade staple cotton, but it must 
be remembered that this class of goods necessarily sells at low prices, 
and, therefore, the price paid for the cotton from which this cloth 
is manufactured must be in proportion to the price at which the latter 
is sold. To show how rapidly staple cotton depreciates in value as the 
erades are lowered by the increasing quantity of leaf contained in 
the seed cotton, the following statement of prices is given. 

In making the following sales in the Imperial Valley, Strict Good 
| Middling cotton of 1,%;-inch staple was taken as the basis of value, 
| since it represented the early and clean-picked cotton. 

Grade. Net price received by grower. 
Strict Good Middling__ 17. 30 cents. 
COoOde MiIddlimer: 10 5 — 17. 05 cents, or 25 points less than Strict Good Middling. 
Sreict Middling 22.2505 16. 50 cents, or 80 points less than Strict Good Middling. 
‘Middling OI a cep ia 15. 75 cents, or 155 points less than Strict Good Middling. 

Strict Low Middling___ 14. 00 cents, or 330 points less than Strict Good Middling. 

This means a difference of 330 points between the highest and the 
lowest grade shown, or a loss to the grower of $16.50 for a 500-pound 
bale of cotton of the grade of Strict Low Middling, because the cot- 
ton contained “ picks” and leaf and had been poorly ginned. There 
was also increased difficulty in selling low-grade staple cotton. At 
times, in order to interest the mills in the purchase of the lower 
grades of staple cotton, it was necessary to offer it at much wider 
differences between grades. 

At present there is available a plentiful supply of pickers, includ- 
| ing white settlers, Indians, Mexicans, Hindus, and Japanese, Chinese, 


and negro pickers. The kind of work done and the resulting quality 
of the cotton depend largely, if not wholly, on the attention given 
to the matter by the growers themselves. Pickers of the same race 
were observed to give very different results according to the instruc- 
tions and supervision given. 


The gins in the Imperial Valley are located at the towns of Calex- 
ico, Heber, El Centro, Seeley, Holtville, Brawley, Wiest, and Cali- 
patria, and there is a roller gin at Dixieland. As a rule, the cotton 
gins have no available storage facilities for taking care of the seed 
cotton, nor has the grower, who is in the habit of loading his 

cotton on the wagon as it is picked in the field and hauling it di- 
rectly to the gin, where it is left on the wagon until it can be ginned. 
In the meantime the cotton that is being picked is placed in piles on 
the ground in the field to await the return of the wagon. (See fig. 2.) 
This careless manner of handling the seed cotton causes it to gather up 
leaf and trash from the ground when the wagon is being loaded. If 
the ground is damp, from irrigation or other cause, and the pile of 
cotton is not removed for some time, the cotton on the bottom of the 
pile will heat and become damaged as a consequence. 

The amount of rainfall in the Imperial Valley is so small that it 
is not absolutely necessary for the grower to have houses in which to 


store his seed cotton; but if he does not have at least two wagons so 
that one or the other may be always in the field to be filled with cot- 
ton as the pickers gather it, he should have tarpaulins or building 
paper spread on the ground so that the cotton miay be emptied on 
them as it is picked. This method will keep the cotton clean and also 
will protect it from the dampness of the ground. 

One cotton plantation in the valley has had installed at its local 
railroad station an automatic loader, driven by: a gasoline engine, 
for use in transferring the seed cotton from the wagons to the cars. 
Attached to this machine is a cleaning device, and when the cotton 
is conveyed by suction from the wagon to the freight cars it is 
drawn over a grating through which fall the leaf and other impuri- 
ties. This process of cleaning the cotton before it is ginned has been 
found to be of considerable value, as it not only serves to blow out 
the dust, but also removes enough leaf to raise the cotton in grade. 
Besides this arrangement for increasing the grade of its cotton, the 
plantation is very careful in picking and handling it, and the increase 
in price which it secured for cotton during 1915 should satisfy any 
farmer as to the importance of giving the very best care to the han- 
dling of seed cotton. 


It has been difficult to impress upon the ginners in the Imperial 
Valley the importance of ginning the Durango long-staple cotton 
smoothly and free of neps.. The importance of proper handling and 
ginning of cotton, especially in long-staple districts, can not be over- 
emphasized. <A good staple produced from pure pedigreed seed, if 
ginned green or damp or with gin saws running too fast, may be 
damaged in value from $5 to $25 or more a bale. On the basis of 
recent investigations by the Department of mee iculture the following 
suggestions are offered : 

All cotton should be thoroughly dry before it is sanical Tt is not 
possible for the ginner to turn out from green or damp cotton a good, 
smooth sample free from gin cutting and nepping. 

Gin manufacturers agree that a reasonable speed of the saw shaft 
does not materially affect the quality of ginning, provided the brushes 
remove the lint from the saw teeth. It has been shown, however, that 
a proper speed is from 325 to 375 revolutions per minute on a 12-inch 
saw and from 375 to 425 revolutions per minute on a 10-inch saw. 

Brushes should always be kept in the best condition and should 
pe set so that the bristles reach to the bottom of the saw teeth. 

The speed of the brush should be from 1,500 to 1,600 revolutions | 
per minute. Whenever possible a brush driven independently of the 


saw shaft is recommended. By this arrangement any change in the 
speed of the saw shaft does not affect the speed of the brush. 

Other things being equal, it is impossible to lay too much stress — 
on the condition of the roll in the ginning of long-staple cotton. It 
is impossible for the saws to pass through a hard roll without cutting 
or nepping the fiber. What is known as a slack or soft roll should be 
used for ginning long-staple cotton. This roll should be run just 
hard enough to prevent breaking, and the feed should. be adjusted 
so as to keep it as nearly as possible of the same consistency through- 
out its entire length. , 

The huller breast is recommended in preference to the single-rib 
type for ginning long-staple cotton. The chief reason for recom- 
mending this type is that a more uniform roll can be made, and each 
lock of seed cotton is more thoroughly loosened before it reaches the 
gin roll. The huller breast also takes out the large trash. 

The gins of the valley are all practically new and can be made 
to do excellent work if the ginne? understands his machinery and is 
willing to make the effort to turn out cotton that is considered “ well 
handled.” . 

After impressing upon the local ginners the importance of ginning 
Durango smoothly, it was found that several of them were willing 
to make the necessary adjustments on their machines with a view 
to turning out first-class work, which they realized would bring to 
them a volume of trade which would more than reimburse them for 
the extra care taken and the reduced output. The results obtained so 
far have been very satisfactory to the grower of Durango as well as 
the ginner, as both have profited through the results of good ginning. 


The cotton, as it passes from the saws of the gin through the i 
condenser, should come out in smooth and even layers; and if it is 
conveyed to the press box by air blast, the ginner should see that the 
cotton is not roped by the suction of the air, which sometimes twists 
it into short lengths roughly resembling cotton rope. Roughly 
handled or poorly condensed cotton that has been subjected to further 
impairment by roping, or twisting, will not press into the bale evenly 
and will be detected when the cotton is sampled, which will reduce its 
value materially when it is marketed. The mills that make fine yarns 
will not buy such cotton except at a considerable discount from the 
price usually paid for well-handled cotton.of the same grade, since 
the latter produces less waste and gives less trouble in manufactur- 
ing processes. For this reason, if the cotton is condensed smoothly 
and evenly and is carefully conveyed to the press box and packed 


into the bale in even layers, the samples that are drawn from the 
bale will be even and attractive to buyers. 

When the bale arrives at the mill and is opened, the cotton can 
be taken off the bale in layers and mixed with other cotton with 
the least amount of labor. When such cotton is run through the 
_ pickers, cards, and combers, it not only will be easier to spin than 
cotton that has been carelessly handled, but the loss in waste will 
be much less, and the grower will reap the benefits to be derived from 
a careful ginning, baling, and covering of his cotton. 

Up to the present time the local ginners have not given enough 
attention to this matter, with the result that some of the bales of 

Fic. 3.—Pickings from one car of country-damaged cotton, 

cotton on sampling have resembled repacked cotton. The growers 
and ginners of the valley can not afford to allow this loss to con- 

Tt is a well-known fact that the American square bale is put up 
in very poor material for handling and storing, and is the most 
insufficiently covered bale put on the world’s cotton markets.1_ This 
complaint has been made not only by the spinning mills in the 
United States, but by those in Canada, England, and Europe. The 
loss in weight and damage to cotton that occurs while it is in transit 

1 Taylor, Fred, Griffith, D. C., and Atkinson, C. E. Ginning Information for Farmers. 
U. S. Dept. Agr., Farmers’ Bul. 764, 1916. 


is charged indirectly to the farmer. This would be understood read- 
ily by the grower if he were aware of the enormous amount of loose 
cotton which has to be picked from the bale while in transit because 
_of the present quality of covering used. 

The covering of the cotton of the Imperial Valley has been no 
exception to this unfortunate general rule. Sugar bags, reworked 
bagging, and bagging of too hight quality have been used as cover- 
ings with much resulting waste. A good quality of new bagging 
or a heavy burlap of sufficient strength to withstand rough handling 
should be used in every case. 

It has been estimated that the “city crop ” of cotton for the entire 
South during 1915 amounted to approximately 100,000 bales. This 
total includes the samples that are necessary in selling cotton, but 
the greater part of the amount is composed of damaged cotton 
caused by inadequate covering and careless handling in transit. (See 
fig. 3.) 


As the Durango cotton varies so much in value according to the 
length of staple, character of the fiber, and the care with which it 
is picked and handled (which can give it a market value of almost, 
if not quite, double the value of short-staple cotton), it is essential 
that the bale should be identified properly. A good method consists 
of attaching to the bale a strong paper tag bearing a number, and 
also by marking legibly in ink on the bagging covering the bale. 
These marks will serve to identify the cotton in the course of ship- 
ment from point of origin to destination, and thus will prevent the 
good cotton from being mixed inadvertently with cotton of less 
value. The laborers who handle a bale of cotton from the time it is 
baled at the gin to the time it reaches its destination at the spinning 
mill are ignorant of its superior value. For these reasons it is urgent 
that the ginner tag the bale carefully and mark the grower’s initials 
in ink on the head of the bale,t which will insure its identification 
at the compress. These marks also serve as a record for the associa- 
tion that handles the cotton or for the purchaser of the cotton. 

When the cotton is delivered at the compress, a substantial tag 
with two perforated coupons attached is fastened to each bale. The 
tag and each coupon bear the same number. The bales are then 
listed and stored. If the grower should ask for the gin records he 
will be shown the list giving the corresponding gin-tag numbers 
and weight of the bales. 

1Placing the grower’s mark on the head of the bale is preferable to placing it on the 
side, as when the cotton is compressed the bagging on the end of the bale is first tucked 
in, preventing the initials, or marks, from being obliterated and serving to record the 
ownership of the bale, should there be any question as to its identity when it is opened 
at the mill, 



The cotton is classed by means of tagged samples, and the samples 
are assembled in uniform lots. A list is then sent to the compress 
with instructions that certain bales be remarked with code words, 
such as “THat,” “sarn,” “past,” etc.,' for identification, and that 
these bales be assembled, compressed, and, possibly, loaded for ship- 
ment. It is important that these new marks be large enough to be 
read easily and that a good quality of ink be used for this purpose, 
as the transportation companies follow these marks exclusively and 
treat each such lot of cotton, which may be composed of many bales, 
as an individual shipment. It is a common practice among shippers, 
in addition to the identification marks usually affixed, to brand their 
cotton to distinguish it as belonging to a special shipper. 

In the early days of the cotton industry in the Imperial Valley 
there were no compresses, all the cotton being shipped out by gin 
weight only. In later years compresses have been installed, and as 
it is customary in the cotton trade to accept the weights as given by 
them, inasmuch as there is usually a certified, or public, weigher to 
oversee this matter, thus insuring accurate results, cotton producers 
in the Imperial Valley likewise have come to accept compress weights 
as correct. : 


The facilities for the storage of cotton in the Imperial Valley 
are very poor and limited. This is probably due to the fact that the 
cotton, industry in that locality is in its youth, and also to the small- 
percentage of rainfall, which averages about 24 inches annually. 
Many of the growers in the valley assume that cotton can be laid 
on the ground and left there without deterioration until the pros- 
pective purchaser is ready to move it to the compress for compres- 
sion and shipment. (See fig. 4.) This assumption is not justified, 
for during the past year cotton which has been exposed has been 
damaged as much in this section because of negligence on the part 
of the grower as it is damaged in the South where the rainfall is 
heavy and cotton is left unprotected on the ground. 

According-to present practice in the Imperial Valley, after the 
cotton is baled at the gin it is thrown out on the gin yard without the 
precaution of placing dunnage underneath in order to allow free cir- 
culation of the air on the lower side of the bales. When it is removed 
to the yard of the local warehouse the bales receive no better care, but 
are placed on end on the bare ground, where they remain unprotected 
until they are sent to the compress. Fortunately the cotton does not 

1 For convenience and regularity, words of four letters each are generally used, 

6187. — Bult 458179 


remain very long either in the gin yard or in the warehouse yard, but 
during the unusual weather conditions that prevailed during the mar- 
keting season of 1914-15, when the demand for cotton was poor and 
prices were correspondingly low, and the grower was forced to carry 
over some of his crop until the fall of 1915, much of the cotton was 
“docked ” or penalized from 5 to 20 pounds per bale on account of 
country damage; that is, much rotten or damaged cotton was picked 
off each bale before the bale was sold. This loss was attributable 
directly to the practice of storing the bales on the bare ground at the 
gin and in the warehouse yard. Country damage occurs on the farms, 
in the gin yards, warehouse yards, and the compress yards or wherever 
the bales are left standing or lying on damp or wet ground. There 

was an unusual amount of rainfall during the season mentioned, 
but if the bales had been placed on dunnage there would have been 
no damage to the cotton. (See fig. 5.) Even though the ground may 
appear to be dry, there is always enough dampness from it to injure 
the fibers. 

There is a clause in the marine insurance policies that covers 
country damage, and this cost for insuring the shipper’s cotton 
against loss by country damage is charged back directly to the 
grower, inasmuch as the shipper calculates the cost of insurance and 
deducts it from the price to be paid to the cotton grower. 

Sheds are not absolutely necessary in the Imperial Valley, as 
the rainfall is not sufficient to do any great amount of damage pro- 


vided the bales are on dunnage and are rolled over after a rain so 
they may dry out on all sides. Of course, sheds would prevent a 
certain amount of loss in weight by protecting the cotton from the 
sun. For its weight and size a bale of cotton is the most valuable 
farm product grown in the valley, and therefore is entitled to as 
much care as any of the other crops produced. 


The method of sampling the Durango cotton is similar to that fol- 
lowed throughout the South where staple cotton is bought and sold; 
that is, the bagging on the bale is cut open on one side in a crescent 
shape about 18 inches long, usually between the second and third 

Fic. 5.—Cotton properly protected from country damage by dunnage. 

band, and the flap thus made in the bagging is laid back. The first 
layer of cotton, which is generally dirty or discolored by the bagging, 
is pulled off and discarded. In order to obtain a representative sam- 
ple it is necessary to secure the cotton from deeper in the bale and to 
draw it out in even and smooth layers. This procedure is repeated | 
on the opposite side of the bale, after which one of the coupons is torn 
from the tag on the bale and placed between the two samples just 
drawn. : 

More skill in sampling is required than one not familiar with the 
cotton trade would suppose, and, therefore, it is important to both 
buyer and seller that the samples be pulled carefully and be repre- 
sentative of the bale from which they are taken. In drawing a 


sample it is essential that the sampler should understand how to 
remove from the bale the cotton that may be discolored by the bag- 
ging or by dirt or mud, and at the same time he should take out 
any gin fall that may be in the sample, but he must be careful not 
to change the grade of the sample either by rough handling or by 
picking it to the extent that it will not represent the bale from which 
it was taken. When the cotton arrives at the mill or other destina- 
tion and is resampled, if it is found to be not as represented, the 
purchaser will either reject it or make a claim for the difference in 
value between the original grade by which it was sold and that shown ~ 
by the redrawn sample. 

The present method of cutting the bale open and sampling the 
cotton each time a prospective purchaser wishes to examine it is 
an abuse that not only subjects the bale to loss in weight and other- 
wise damages it, but also increases the risk of fire. With the con- 
tinuance of this custom it will be difficult to avoid the resampling of 
cotton, especially of. staple cotton, in view of the fact that there is 
such a Wide variation in the price of such cotton, eccording to the 
length of the staple and its grade. When a.buyer contemplates pay- 
ing a premium for a lot of staple cotton, it will be seen readily that 
his reasons for wishing to sample the cotton beforehand and pass 
judgment upon it personally are justified. 


The Durango is a new variety of upland-staple cotton developed 
by the United States Department of Agriculture* and introduced into 
the Imperial Valley during the year 1910 as a long-staple cotton 
suited to the local climatic conditions. The lack of rainfall and 
the long and hot season in this valley make the section ideal for 
the growing of cotton of long staple and of a bright and bloomy 
color, both essential qualities in the manufacture of fine yarn. Of 
the varieties tried, it was found that the Durango cotton responded 
best to the conditions existing in the Imperial Valley; hence this 
variety for that locality is recommended and encouraged by the 
United States Department of Agriculture. 

There are no established types or standards that may be used for 
classing the Durango cotton other than the Official Cotton Standards 
of the United States for grade and the standards for length used by 
shippers of upland-staple varieties throughout the southern staple 
districts, which are 1;% inches, 14 inches, 1,3; inches, 14 inches, 1,5 
inches, etc. The Durango cotton grown by irrigation in the Im- 

1 Cook, O. F., Durango Cotton in the Imperial Valley. Jn U. S. Dept. Agr. Bur. Plant 
Indus. Circular 111, pages 11—22, 1913. 

McLachlan, Argyle. Community Production of Durango Cotton in the Imperial Valley. 
U. S. Dept. Agr. Bul. 324, 1915. 


perial Valley is commonly of a brighter and more “bloomy” color 
than the staple cotton grown in the South; it contains less leaf in 
the early part of the picking season, but more fine or pulverized 
leaf during the latter part of the season than is found in cotton 
of similar grades grown in the Mississippi Delta. 

The actual tagged samples representing the grades and staple of 
the lots of cotton classed were sent to cotton-mill brokers and direct 
to the spinning mills that manufacture fine yarns. Each list of 50 
bales sent out, as shown by samples, represented cotton of a certain 
length of staple and grade. For example, lot No. 1 (50 bales), 
marked “witu,” represented Strict Middling and Good Middling, 
14-inch staple; lot No. 2, marked “ mrKe,” Good Middling and better, 
14-inch staple; lot No. 3, marked “Tomy,” Strict Middling and 
Good Middling, 1,3; inch; lot No. 4, marked “trun,” Good Middling 
and better, 1;%; mel: lot No On D5 mayiced “ EDGE,’ Strict Middling and 
Good Nedelling: 1} inhi: and so on. In this way types were estab- 
lished which Me etacénted all combinations of grades and staples 
raised in the valley. 

After types were established and recorded as a basis for trading 
between the association and the brokers and mills, it was a com- 
paratively simple matter to class the cotton equal to the types. This 
method of classing was carried on throughout the season, and proved 
satisfactory. The spinner who possessed types knew exactly the 
staple, grade, and character of the cotton he was buying when he 
ordered cotton equal to a certain type. 

When samples were sent to the association’s sample room for 
classing, each bale was graded, stapled, and given a mark. These 
marks were entered in the type book as being equal to an established 
type of similar grade and staple. 

During the early fall Durango cotton which was picked with care 
was of a superior grade, much of it being Strict Good Middling. 
Even to the time of the first heavy frost, November 12, 1915, which 
occurred from 15 to 20 days earler than usual, the cotton was of a 
very good quality and grade when care was exercised in its picking 
and ginning. After this frost, which killed the cotton plant, the 
grades were much lower on account of the difficulty of picking the 
cotton free of leaf. Cotton which was still in the boll was lowered 
in grade by the effects of the frost, which caused discoloration from 
light tinged spots to a deep yellow tinge throughout the cotton. 


The Durango cotton varies in length of staple from 1-4; inch to 14% 
inch. Its character is very good; the fiber is silky and has consider- 
able spirality, it is exceptionally strong and even in length, and free 


from waste, when grown in rich soil which is sufficiently irrigated 
and when the cotton has been carefully picked. The 1,;4-inch 
staple Durango cotton and the greater portion of the soft and wasty- 
fiber cotton grown in the Imperial Valley during the season 1915-16, 
was found to be volunteer or “ ratooned ” Durango. 

The Durango cotton of 14-inch staple may be produced by several 
different causes. Durango seed from 14-inch staple will reproduce 
cotton of similar staple, provided it is planted in soil of equal rich- 
ness, given the proper cultivation, and is sufficiently irrigated. The 
same rule holds good in the production of 1,4;-1nch, 14-inch, and 1,';- 
inch staple cotton from Durango seed. Cotton picked from bolls 
killed by frost will be found to be of weaker staple than that gath- 
ered from mature bolls. 

The various lengths of staple of Durango cotton may be attributed 
to the quality of the seed planted and the condition of the soil, such 
as soft, hard, or sandy loam, which determines the readiness of the 
soil to absorb water when irrigated and its capacity to retain mois- 
ture. It is very important that the land should be level, so it can be 
irrigated evenly, the water being distributed equally over the field. 
Tf the soil is of equal quality over such a field, the length of the staple 
of cotton grown therein will be uniform. When the length of staple 
varies in the same seed in the same ormin adjacent fields, it is usually 
because of a difference in the quality of the soil or because the land 
is not level, which prevents uniform irrigation. 

Studies indicate that the length of staple will deteriorate if the 
seed is planted in soil that 1s depleted of nitrogen and humus matter, 
or in soil which contains too much alkali. It is said that the staple 
will also deteriorate if the land has not been put into good condition 
beforehand, or if it is not well cultivated afterwards and given the 
proper amount of water. 

The Durango staple will increase in length, strength, and silkiness, 
provided the seed is planted in good, rich soil. A light loam that has 
been planted in alfalfa for several years and pastured and then put 
into good condition, cultivated well, and irrigated throughout the 
growing season should produce an excellent staple. There are rec- 
ords of Durango cotton grown in such land which stapled 1,3; inches 
in length and which sold at top prices in eastern markets. 

During the season 1915-16 Durango cotton of the Imperial Valley 
was marketed in various ways, the growers’ association utilizing ex- 
isting methods and also devising others of its own. 

1 Scofield, C. S., Kearney, T. H., Brand, C. J., Cook, O. F., and Swingle, W. T., Com- 
munity Production of Egyptian Cotton in the United States. U. S. Dept. Agr. Bul. 332, 
1916; see page 25. 

eee oe ee ee 


There are several local buyers and several exporting firms, repre- 
sented by local buyers, in the Imperial Valley. Their business is 
conducted in this locality on the same basis as it is in the small towns 
of the Southern States. The local buyer establishes his headquarters 
in one of the larger towns convenient to the cotton section in which 
he is operating. Either he has a local buyer stationed in each of the 
smaller neighboring towns where cotton is ginned or he keeps in di- 

rect touch with the ginner or warehouseman, usually by telephone. | 

When he learns that there is cotton for sale at a certain town he im- 
mediately sends his buyer to examine and class this cotton and to 
offer the grower a price for it. 

In the Imperial Valley the town of El Centro is centrally located 
for the cotton business, and the majority of the buyers have their 
headquarters there. The town of Calexico, which is near the Mexi- 
ean border, has a compress and a number of modern gins, and draws 
cotton from both the American and the Mexican side of the border. 
The receipts at Calexico are larger than at any other point in the 
valley, and the buyers in El Centro will visit Calexico whenever 
cotton is offered for sale at that point. When a grower wishes to 
sell to local buyers, he informs the manager of the compress of the 
fact. Kmployees at the compress take samples and lay them out on 
tables. The buyers who are interested are invited to examine these 
samples and to submit sealed bids to the manager. After all the 
bids are in they are opened by the manager and the bids are com- 
pared, the highest bidder being awarded the cotton at the price 
he has offered. The compress then weighs the cotton, if it has not 
keen weighed previously, and the buyer gives his check to the grower 
in return for the compress receipts covering the cotton in question, 
and the transaction is closed. This method of selling is satisfactory 
to the grower, as he knows how much he will receive for his cotton, 
the sale is made within a day, and he usually receives his money 

In making sales of cotton in the smaller towns, such as Imperial 
(where there is a compress), El Centro, Seeley, Holtville, and 
Brawley, the buyer interviews the grower who has a bale or a 
number of bales to sell; he examines the cotton and makes the 
grower an offer for it. If there should be more than one buyer 
present, the farmer sells his cotton to the buyer offering him the 
best price, while if there is but one buyer the grower, if forced to 
sell the same day, has to accept whatever price the buyer offers. 
The price paid by the local buyer is based upon the quotations for 
similar cotton in the ports of New Orleans and Galveston, less the 


broker’s commission, freight to the ports, compressing, and other 
compress charges, and all other local charges to which the cotton 
is subject, plus the commission or profit to the original buyer. It 
is understood, of course, that the buyer purchases the cotton at such 
a price as will insure a profit on the transaction in the event of any 
change in the market before he in turn can sell to the broker or 
direct to the mill, as the circumstances warrant. 

The Imperial Valley Long-Staple Cotton Growers’ Association 
sold some of its cotton through these buyers, who also handled all 
of the cotton produced by growers in the valley who did not belong 
to the growers’ association. 


In marketing its Durango cotton independently, the growers’ asso- 
ciation had samples drawn from both sides of each bale of cotton as 
previously described, and coupons from the tags on the bales were 
placed in the samples. The samples were then sent to the office of 
the growers’ association, where they were laid out on the tables to be 
graded and stapled. Cotton of similar grade and even lengths of 
staple was classed into lots of 50 bales each. A designating mark of 
four letters was placed on the wrapper covering the samples and the 
tag list was entered in the type book, with all information concerning 
the cotton, including grade, staple, ownership, and the type to which 
the lot was equal. 

The samples were then sent to the prospective purchasers known 
by the association to be in the market for such cotton. On the 
arrival of the samples at the cotton mills, their classer examined them 
and if, in his judgment, the cotton represented by the samples sub- 
mitted was suitable for their requirements they asked for a firm 
offer. Upon receipt of the offer, if the price was considered reason- 
able by the mill treasurer, he accepted it or made a counter offer of 
a price which he considered as the market value of the cotton, or its 
value to his mill. These transactions were all carried on by telegraph, 
for, according to the custom of the trade, firm offers hold good only 
for the day, unless otherwise stated. For instance, the owner, whether 
he is the buyer, broker, or representative of the association, will 
usually offer cotton under the following terms: “ We offer firm, NEL 
50 bales, Mrxe 50 bales, at 20 cents f. o. b., and freight to mill.” 
Limitation may be placed on an offer in many ways. 

The marketing of staple cotton at full price is a difficult matter. 
It rests first on the ability of the classer to make up lots of 50 bales 
each of similar grade and equal length of staple. Then it is neces- 
sary to offer the cotton so as to secure the full market price, yet at 
the same time the final purchaser, the mill treasurer, must feel that 


he is receiving full value for his money. To manage such sales to 
the satisfaction of all concerned requires a certain amount of skill 
and ability. 

The demand for cotton is based on the activity of the yarn or goods 
market, which in turn hinges upon the style of goods being worn or 
utilized, and upon the general financial conditions. When the supply 
of cotton is unusually large, low prices with dull and inactive markets 
for staples must result. In times of prosperity naturally more money 
is spent on dress goods and other articles of fine quality than’ in 
seasons of financial depression, and there is a good demand for ma- 
terial at high prices. This demand means an active staple-cotton 
market and high prices, but, of course, the law of supply and demand 
apples to cotton as well as to any other commodity. 

As previously stated, the high grades of cotton are those in greatest 
demand; in fact, a mill spinning fine yarns for the weaving of fancy 
and high-grade goods will not buy low-grade staple cotton. Staple 
cotton of the Durango variety ranges in length from 1,4 to 1,3; 
inches, and for each increase of one-sixteenth of an: inch in length 
of staple in the grade of Strict Middling and Good Middling, and 
better, there is an increase in price of about 1 cent a pound. These 
differences in value between the various grades are not stable, but 
vary with the demand for the different lengths of staple, and also 
change with the grade and quality or character of the cotton. For 
instance, Good Middling, 14 inch, grown on poor land which has 
been insufficiently irrigated, will make irregular, soft, and fluffy 
fiber which will not equal in value cotton of the same grade and 
_ length of staple grown under proper conditions. As poor or faulty 
ginning also will reduce the value of the staple materially, in the 
marketing of long-staple cotton it is necessary to take into considera- 
tion every good quality and all defects, whether inherent or produced 


Although this bulletin discusses handling and marketing primarily 
with reference to the Durango cotton produced in the Imperial Val- 
ley, what is said concerning transportation rates and facilities ap- 
plies to all classes of cotton grown there. So far as is known, prior 
to the season of 1916-17, little of the Imperial Valley cotton was ex- 
ported to the Orient from Pacific coast ports. A small portion of it 
is consumed by the mills of the Southeast; some of it moves through 
the ports of Galveston and New Orleans to Europe; and some of it 
moves to those ports and thence by water to New York for consump- 
tion at interior mills. : 


~The local rates from New York to the interior mills are the same 
for all cotton moving from any section by that route to ultimate 
points of consumption. Similarly the ocean rates from the ports 
of Galveston and New Orleans both to New York and to European 
ports are the same for all cotton, whether produced in the Imperial 
Valley or elsewhere. In considering the higher rate to market which 
is paid on Imperial Valley cotton, it is necessary to take into account 
merely that portion of it which apphes from Imperial Valley points 
to the ports of Galveston and New Orleans. 

Prior to the beginning of the production of cotton in the Salt 
River Valley of Arizona and in the Imperial Valley of California, 
the railroads west of El] Paso, Tex., and Albuquerque, N. Mex., had 
had no experience in the transportation of cotton except in carload 
lots from the cotton belt destined to Pacific coast mills and to Pacific 
coast ports for exportation to the Orient. On the cotton shipped 
for consumption at Pacific coast mills, a transcontinental domestic 
rate of 95 cents per 100 pounds had been established, which rate in- 
cluded 10 cents for compression in transit. The through export rate 
from the cotton belt to the Orient via Pacific coast ports was very 
little, if any, higher than the domestic rate to Pacific coast cities, 
and, in dividing it, the amount received by the rail carriers for the 
haul to the Pacific coast was much less, of course, than the domestic 
rate to the Pacific coasé. 

When it became necessary to establish an eastbound transconti- 
nental commodity rate for the cotton of the Imperial Valley, the 
through export rates to the Orient had been canceled, and the rail 
carriers were receiving for the haul from the cotton belt to the Pacific 
coast the same amount on both domestic and export shipments. With 
a rate thus established for the westbound movement, it was taken 
as a standard, and the eastbound rate was made the same. 

The eastbound rate of 95 cents, including 10 cents for compression, 
leaving a net transportation rate of 85 cents, remained in effect till 
the summer of 1915, when it was raised to $1.05, including 15 cents 
for compression and leaving a net transportation rate of, 90 cents. 
The advance of 5 cents in the net transportation charge was per- 
mitted by the Interstate Commerce Commission on the showing by 
the carrier of a higher cost of performing the eastbound service. 
The present proportional any-quantity rate on compressed cotton 
from both Galveston and New Orleans to New York is 25 cents per — 
100 pounds, which makes a through carload net rate from Imperial 
Valley points of $1.15. 

The cotton acreage in the Imperial Valley has increased rapidly 
under the stimulus of the unusual conditions which recently have 
affected the world’s markets, and apparently the existing high prices 
of cotton are sufficient at the present time to counterbalance a freight 


rate higher than that paid by the cotton belt. Attention may be 
called, however, to the possible entry into the situation in the not 
distant future of new factors which may result in a lower rate by 
other routes. 

Granted vessel space, it would be possible to move the Imperial 
Valley cotton to eastern United States and -Kuropean markets 
through the Panama Canal from the port of San Pedro. Calexico, 
the southernmost point in the Imperial Valley, is 248 miles from San 
Pedro, and the carload cotton rate from all points in Imperial Valley 
to San Pedro is 40 cents per 100 pounds. Before the European war 
an ocean rate of $7 per ton was available through the canal from 
San Pedro to New York. If, after the close of the war, when a large 
tonnage of vessels will be released for peaceful commerce, the ocean 
rate is equally favorable, the freight charge by the canal route will be 
less than by rail, even with the additional expense of marine in- 
surance and the cost of transfer at San Pedro from cars to vessel. 

No figures are available to make a comparison of through rates to 
European ports via San Pedro with those via Galveston or New 
Orleans, but the rate via San Pedro under normal conditions would 
probably be the lower. The rail rate from the Imperial Valley to San 
Pedro is 65 cents less per hundred pounds than the rates to the Gulf 
ports, and it is not likely that the ocean rates from San Pedro to 
New York and to European ports would exceed the rates from the 
Gulf ports by so large an amount. 

The freight rate alone is not always the determining factor in the 
selection of one route in preference to another. Consideration is 
given to questions of service, and an important element of service is 
the length of time in transit. The present average time by the rail- 
and-water route through Galveston or New Orleans is two weeks to 
either of those ports, plus an additional week to New York. Records 
of past sailings indicate that there would be an advantage in time in 
shipping to New York via San Pedro through the canal. 

In connection with the water route through the canal, mention 
should be made of the railroad now under construction between San 
Diego and El Centro, the completion of which will give the valley an 
outlet for its cotton through an additional Pacific port. Although 
San Diego is 102 miles south of Los Angeles Harbor (San Pedro), 
and therefore somewhat nearer the Panama Canal, yet in view of 
the fact that the total distance from San Diego to New York is ap- 
proximately 5,000 nautical miles, and that to Liverpool is in excess of 
7,000 nautical miles, it is not likely that this slightly shorter distance 
from San Diego will make any difference in the ocean rate. With 
respect to the rail haul, however, the average distance from all cot- 
ton-ginning stations to San Diego will be 85 miles less than to San ~ 
Pedro. If account be taken only of Imperial and Calexico, at which 


stations about 80 per cent of all the cotton originates, the average 
distance will be 100 miles less. So great a decrease in the distance 
probably would have the effect of reducing the local rate to the 
Pacific port, with a consequent lessening of the through rate to 
New York and to European ports. 





Fic. 6.—Map of the Imperial Valley. 

The Imperial Valley is served by a 40-mile branch of the Southern 
Pacific Railroad, which extends south from Niland to Calexico on the 
Mexican boundary. (See fig. 6.) Connecting with the Southern 
Pacific at El Centro, the Holton Interurban, an independent railroad, 
extends east to Holtville, a distance of 10.5 miles, and west to Dixie- 
land, a distance of 13.7 miles. On the Southern Pacific Railroad are 
located seven gins and two compresses, the compresses being at Im- 


perial and Calexico. The through rates to eastern mills and mar- 
kets are so adjusted as to make it more economical to compress the 
cotton in the valley than to forward it in flat bales uncompressed, as 
beyond Niland there are no compresses available until shipments 
reach the vicinity of San Antonio, Tex., some 1,200 miles from the 
point of production. 

The tariffs require the payment of local charges from the ginning 
point to the compress point on delivery of every shipment at a com- 
press. When the cotton has been compressed and is ready to be re- 
shipped, the local charges which have been paid for the transporta- 
tion to the compress point are refunded on such part of the outgo- 
ing cotton as moved to the compress point in carload lots. Five 
working days are allowed for the service of compression, but the local 
charges will not be refunded unless the cotton is reshipped within one 
year from the date of its arrival at the compress point. To this ex- 
tent then the transportation arrangements are equivalent to the 
compression-in-transit privilege which prevails in the cotton belt. 

No refund is made of the local transportation charges on cotton 
-reaching the compress point in less-than-carload lots, and in this 
respect the situation is different from that of the cotton belt, where 
cotton moves on an any-quantity rate from the ginning point 
through the compress point, with privilege of compression in transit 
to market or to a seaport. 

The tariffs further provide that the carrier will not assume the 
cost of unloading or reloading shipments at transit points; that is, 
at the compresses. This is in line with similar requirements of 
carriers in the cotton belt. 

As there are three gins located north of Imperial, it is necessary 
to back haul some of the cotton in order to reach a compress. The 
situation thus differs very materially from the situation in the 
cotton belt, where the gins and compresses are more numerous and 
more widely distributed, and where the location of the compresses 
is such that a back haul is necessary only in very rare instances, 
if at all. Not only is there granted in the Imperial Valley the 
unusual privilege of a back haul in connection with the transit 
privilege of this kind, but, so far as concerns carload shipments, the 
back haul is made free of charge. | 

Little information is available as to the quantity of cotton shipped 
to compress points in less-than-carload lots, which incurs rail trans- 
portation expense in addition to the transcontinental rate for the 
eastbound movement. About one-third of the crop for the season 
of 1915-16 was marketed through the Imperial Valley Long Staple 
Cotton Growers’ Association, and the records of the association 
show that less than 2 per cent of the cotton that it handled was 


thus affected. The records do not show, however, from what sta- 
tions these less-than-carload shipments were made, so that it is 
impossible to determine the aggregate additional rail transportation 

Gins are located on the Holton Interurban Railway. All cotton 
which is shipped from these gins to a compress must pay the local 
charges on this railroad to El Centro, no part of which is refunded: 
Beyond El] Centro compression in transit is permitted, and the 
charges on carload shipments to compress points are refunded under 
Southern Pacific tariffs, as has been described above. 

The excellent roads of the Imperial Valley, which are seldom dis- 
turbed by rainfall, make it more economical in some cases to haul 
cotton by autotrucks or wagons to compress points. In actual prac- 
tice it would seem that a relatively small amount is hauled in this 
way. If the experience of the Imperial Valley Long Staple Cotton 
Growers’ Association is representative of that of all the shippers in 
the valley, the amount so transported is shghtly in excess of 3 per 
cent. In computing the total transportation expense, however, ac- 
count must be taken of the cost of the haul by wagon and autotruck. 



Cotton Ginning Information for Farmers. (Farmers’ Bulletin 764. ) 

Losses From Selling Cotton in the Seed. (Farmers’ Bulletin 775. ) 

The Relation of Cotton Buying to Cotton Growing. (Department Bulletin 60. ) 

Cotton Warehouse Construction. (Department Bulletin 277.) 

Custom Ginning as a Factor in Cotton-seed Deterioration. (Department Bulle- 
tin 288.) ° 

Community Production of Durango Cotton in the Imperial Valley. (Department 
Bulletin 324.) 

Manufacturing Tests of Cotton Fumigated with Hydrocyanic Acid Gas. (De- 
partment Bulletin 366.) 

Disadvantages of Selling Cotton in the Seed. (Department Bulletin 375. ) 

Reiation Between Primary Market Prices and Qualities of Cotton. (Depart- 
ment Bulletin 457.) 

Improved Methods of Handling and Marketing Cotton. (Yearbook Separate 


Studies of Primary Cotton Market Conditions in Oklahoma. (Department Bul- 
letin 36.) Price, 5 cents. 









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