Cotton gin waste

rhizo_1 (North AL) zone 7December 21, 2005

We drove by the Burgreen Gin a couple of weeks ago, while they were in full ginning mode. Must have been hundreds of those huge cotton module bales lined up on both sides of the road. Does anyone here know if they give or sell the gin waste (which is in HUGE piles all over the place) to the public after the cotton is all finished being processed?

Robert says that he used to get truckloads of the stuff from Jeff gin years ago, but hasn't even thought about it for a long time.

What's the scoop on this presumably useful organic by-product?

Dorie (always looking for another source of organic matter)

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Years ago in one of our first houses we lived fairly close to the Lily Flagg Gin (no longer in operation) and someone told us about using cotton hulls. We did amend with a load for a couple of years and it was great stuff. I do recall we had a few seeds sprout and some nice cotton plants among the tomatoes, but that's usual with any similar organic product. If we didn't live so far from the Burgreen's operation now, I'd probably still do it at least once every few years.

    Bookmark   December 22, 2005 at 9:15AM
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I buy mine from McQueen Smith Cotton Gin in Prattville. It is $5 a scoop. Two scoops fills up my old long bed S10. You better hurry though, McQueen Smith sells out of this stuff fast.

Oh and it is fabulous!!! Everything grows great in this stuff!


    Bookmark   December 28, 2005 at 12:50PM
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roseyp8255(z8 - SC AL)

Rae - you told me about that - and i had planned to do it - alas - i no longer have access to a truck now that i kicked IT out....but i do have friends with trucks! Gonna have to look into this....

    Bookmark   December 28, 2005 at 11:29PM
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I get mine for free at the cotton gin in Hazel Green (231/431 north, just south of the Tennessee border).

The stuff works great! It's light and fluffy - easy to stuff into large contractor bags...

Meadow Lark

    Bookmark   December 29, 2005 at 9:17AM
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rhizo_1 (North AL) zone 7

Thanks for the great input, friends! As soon as Robert's truck gets out of the hospital (it has to have a new head), we're going to have to get a few loads.

    Bookmark   December 29, 2005 at 10:44AM
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OK, I live in Prattville and can get but do you work it into the soil or what?
Sorry but I've never used before but would be great.

    Bookmark   December 31, 2005 at 10:02AM
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rhizo_1 (North AL) zone 7

Yes, I've heard that it is a good soil amendment but have not used it yet. Anytime we can use a renewable resource like this for our organic matter amendments, it's a great thing! It's a waste product for the cotton gins.

I live in red clay territory, and nothing can be better for improving the soil than an assortment of organic amendments and mulches.

    Bookmark   January 1, 2006 at 1:26PM
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tinawina13(z8 Alabama)

I am going to call them tomorrow and see if McQueen Smith gin still has some. I live in Millbrook--Just never thought about it!

As always,
Happy Gardening,

    Bookmark   January 2, 2006 at 11:46AM
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alas_babylon(z8 Alabama)

Folks, please be careful with this stuff. Unfortunately, cotton is very, very heavily covered in pesticides due to the boll weevil eradication program.

I'm not sure to what extend the waste products may have chemicals in them, but I read some time ago in Mother Earth News that cotton hulls have lots of pesticides. I'm not a fanatic organic, but y'all should be aware of this.


She then focused on the cotton hulls saying that sheÂd driven through cotton growing areas and had seen the piles of cotton hulls that had washed down the rows into roadside ditches after a rain. IÂd also done some investigating on that as well, land tried to explain.

"I checked with a couple of cotton growers, one in Arkansas and one in Tennessee," I began, "and I also did some library research, as well."

I told her that all 3 sources agreed. "The three most sprayed crops in agriculture are cotton, tobacco and soybeans, in that order. Number four is coffee, but thereÂs no commercial coffee grown in the U.S. as far as I know."

I went on to explain that IÂd read the organic article in the magazine to a friend of mine who grows cotton, and who is relatively organic in his gardening practices. He laughed at the idea of collecting the cotton hulls. "Yes," he said, "there are a lot of cotton hulls. You could easily take a shovel and fill up a pickup truck. They wash up in big piles after rains in the fall after the cotton has been picked. But I would never put it on my garden. Do you know how many chemicals, really harsh, toxic chemicals we have to use to grow cotton commercially?" he asked. No, I didnÂt. He said that he had to use several each season, that they penetrate the plant, the cotton and the hulls and he would not even consider using cotton hulls in his compost, or his garden. "Maybe around rose buses for mulch," he said, because you donÂt eat those, but no, not in my garden, not in soil where I grow basil or thyme or even sage. I donÂt want that stuff around my food."

Here is a link that might be useful: Long Creek Herbs: Columns

    Bookmark   January 3, 2006 at 7:19PM
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rhizo_1 (North AL) zone 7

This is a VERY good (and for me: crucial) point. This is the one reason that I have been looking into this matter more thoroughly. I have a zero tolerance of many kinds of chemicals (it's a physical thing, rather than philosophical), and know that chemical residues might be a major issue with these cotton hulls. I couldn't even tolerate it as a soil amendment for non-food crops. Not only are insecticides an issue, but herbicides. All pesticides.

I am going to do some local investigation of this. Could it be that cotton gin waste should not even be incorporated into our soil for fear of contaminating ground water supplies?

The plot thickens.

    Bookmark   January 4, 2006 at 8:56AM
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Sorry - I should have mentioned this in my previous post. We have talked about gin dirt in MG Class, and we were told that it should be fine for using in flower/shrub but NOT in veggie beds...

Meadow Lark

    Bookmark   January 5, 2006 at 12:23PM
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Several years ago I used cotton gin waste. I was talking with
the local county extension agent and he told me not to use it
because of the very strong chemicals that cotton is sprayed
with. He said it would be unsafe to use it around vegetable

    Bookmark   March 29, 2006 at 3:25PM
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Handyman you read my mind. I thought "well you dummy call the county extension office". You answered that and I appreciate the info.
Not going to use even in the flower beds.

    Bookmark   March 29, 2006 at 3:43PM
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I'm not worried about contaminating the ground water. I mean if all these cotton farmers are spraying ACRES of cotton plants and not worrying about the ground water, what harm can I do to my piddly little suburban plot just using the waste products? Most of the contaminant will be washed off the plants during rain storms, back onto the farmer's land (and presumably to the farmer's ground water). Surely if ground water contamination were an issue, the sprays would be outlawed altogether.


    Bookmark   March 29, 2006 at 4:04PM
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Follow up: after I stopped using cotton gin wastes, I looked
around for something to use for an organic fertilizer and I
found that some stores and bent and dent stores would give you
busted bags of flour, dog food and a lot of other similar things that make excellent organic fertilizers. Sometimes I
burn the dead limbs around the house and use the with flour
with the wood ashes together which gives a pretty complete
organic fertilizer.

    Bookmark   March 31, 2006 at 1:05AM
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Cottonseed meal or alfalfa meal.

    Bookmark   March 31, 2006 at 3:59AM
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rhizo_1 (North AL) zone 7

Many thanks, everyone. Didn't take long for me to realize that this material is not something that I need to be incorporating into my soil. Although I continue to look for and use organic solids to improve my clay soil, cotton gin waste will not be a part of the mix.

Luckily, I have a great source for composted wood chips, which I will continue to amend into new planting beds as well as using as a mulch.

    Bookmark   March 31, 2006 at 7:52AM
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Any updated information on this debate about gin "trash" cotton seed hulls? I'm reluctant to use on vegetables but for flowering plants it seems like a good idea to me.

    Bookmark   July 8, 2013 at 2:00PM
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My mother used cottonseed hulls in her garden all her life. Her father did the same. He was 92 when he died she is now 84 and going strong. She just stopped growing a garden 3 or 4 years ago. Her Alabama clay soil is Black down to 18 inches or more. The cotton seed hulls have done her no harm as best we can tell. I have never used them in my garden. I get composted leaves from my city. I get one or two 7ft x 16ft trailer load every 1st and 3rd saturday each month.They load it for you. I have a small 36x120 ft garden I'm trying to make the soil better. I started this last year. Check with your city and see if they have a leaf compost program.

    Bookmark   July 12, 2013 at 3:20PM
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rhizo_1 (North AL) zone 7

Thank you, I'm not needing a source of organic matter any longer but I appreciate your suggestion.

    Bookmark   July 12, 2013 at 4:49PM
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