Kansas: where cotton is king. It seems a little strange to say that in the wheat state, but, at least this time of year, cotton is the top crop around here. If you've traveled the back road to Cullison lately (Old Highway 54), you'll see exactly how much this is the case. This year's cotton […]

Kansas: where cotton is king. It seems a little strange to say that in the wheat state, but, at least this time of year, cotton is the top crop around here. If you've traveled the back road to Cullison lately (Old Highway 54), you'll see exactly how much this is the case.
This year's cotton harvest is bountiful, which is evident in the hundreds of round bales spilling westward near the Cullison cotton gin (officially known as NextGINeration, Inc.) into an open field.
As of the middle of last week, NextGINeration had processed 4,250 round bales, according to office manager Cassie Goyen. She estimates that this number will rise to approximately 17,000 by the time harvest concludes. Goyen said this year's cotton harvest 'basically tripled from last year.'
Next year will likely see even more cotton planted in the area served by the gin, with Goyen predicting a 30-50% increase in next year's harvest, based upon feedback at a producers meeting in Pratt last week.
NextGINeration serves a geographical area ranging from west to the Bucklin area, north to central Reno County, and south and east to western Sumner County.
Goyen said that cotton from the local gin is transported to a warehouse in Liberal. From there, it is exported to 15 to 20 different countries and is typically used to make 'denim and nice clothing,' she said.
I don't know about you, but it is still fascinating to travel past the cotton fields after the bolls split apart. Before harvest, the fields are beautiful to gaze upon and provide a hint of winter in the fall landscape (which is especially nice in a year without much snow).
Cotton's big advantage is that it requires 1/3 to 1/2 as much water as other crops grown in Kansas, like corn. With drought seemingly a perennial issue in these parts, we may be seeing more and more cotton growing along Kansas roadsides.
NextGINeration is the second owner of the Cullison gin, assuming ownership in November 2016. High Plains Cotton Gin built and opened the original facility in 2004.