Hi, I’m Rob Stewart. Coming up, everything
you ever wanted to know about a versatile crop that
touches your life, every day. We’re talking about a crop
that impacts something you’re wearing, carrying,
maybe even cooking. It’s all about cotton! We’ll take you down South where cotton is king
for some farmers. And you may be surprised at the hard work that
goes into the harvest. And we’ll travel
to North Carolina where cotton goes
from fiber to fabric. And what’s the
connection between cotton, catfish and chicken? We’ll take you to Texas where one chef says
without cotton, dinner at his restaurant
just wouldn’t be the same. It’s all coming up on
America’s Heartland. ♪♪>>America’s Heartland is
made possible by…>>CropLife America-
Representing the companies whose modern
farming innovations help America’s farmers
provide nutritious food for communities
around the globe. The Fund for
Agriculture Education – A fund created by
KVIE to support America’s Heartland
programming. Contributors include
the following: ♪♪ You can see it in the eyes
of every woman and man ♪♪ ♪♪ In America’s Heartland,
livin’ close to the land ♪♪ ♪♪ There’s a love
for the country ♪♪ ♪♪ And a pride
in the brand ♪♪ ♪♪ In America’s Heartland ♪♪ ♪♪ Livin’ close…
close to the land ♪♪ ♪♪>>There’s no denying
that cotton is important in all of our lives-
just look in your closet. It’s one of the most versatile fabrics
in the world. Cotton production,
processing, and sales generate more than a
hundred billion dollars each year to
the U.S. economy. Sarah Gardner says
it all starts with the crop in the field.>>Come late summer across
much of the Southeast, you’ll find cotton farmers
taking to the fields to bring in their crops of
fluffy white cotton. And here on
Jay Hardwick’s farm near Newellton, Louisiana,
cotton production is all about growing more
while using less.>>We’ve made tremendous
progress over the years in terms of harvesting
efficiencies and our approach to it.>>Jay will rotate
multiple crops on more than 7 thousand acres. That crop rotation
is important in marshalling equipment and
human resources utilizing science and technology
to maximize efficiency.>>The technology that’s
going into crops to make them insect resistant. This is a huge opportunity
for agriculture because up to this point we’ve
had to use a tremendous amount of pesticides
to grow these crops. But now cotton is being grown
with far less pesticides, which should be comforting
to many, many people.>>In the 1920s and
’30s, Boll Weevils exacted a heavy toll on
America’s cotton crops. These days new pesticides and other eradication
programs have gone a long way in controlling
that insect population. The cotton planting to
harvest cycle here on the Hardwick farm
takes about 150 days. As part of the process,
Jay decides when to spray his plants with defoliant,
forcing the leaves to drop, and making his cotton
easier to harvest.>>What we’re trying to do is
allow the cotton to open to where it’s 60% of the bolls,
this is the fruit of the- of the cotton plant,
when that boll opens up and is a cotton like this
that’s ready to be picked. We try to create a harvest
efficiency by opening up all the bolls so we
can pick at one time.>>Okay and how do you
go about applying the chemical to the field?>>We use what are called a
ground rig, it’s a tractor with a spray boom on it and
it’s a self-contained cab the operator is in
a closed environment, so he doesn’t come in contact
with any of the materials that we spray on the farm so
it’s a very clean operation. ♪♪>>Jay, his family and
crew utilize technology in bringing in their harvest. Coordinating information
from that variety of sources means a more efficient use
of machinery and field time.>>Well the adoption of
new technologies like GPS equipment,
satellite systems, computer-based technology
and software, you know, the allure of it is
just so impressive, it’s almost as if
you adopt this, you will have increased
opportunities. ♪♪>>Even with technology, a cotton harvest means
long hours in the fields… using specialized equipment to handle the picking
and transport.>>The front of the
picker are spindles and they’re pointed
kind of like my fingers and they have
little notches on them and those notches
are rotating, and as they’re rotating
around on a drum they’re feeding the
cotton through that drum. And then we have a tractor that’s tied to what
we call a boll buggy, a big basket on wheels that
comes through the field, comes up alongside
that cotton picker and then he waits and they
mechanically operate that and dump it into
that big basket. ♪♪>>A hydraulic cylinder
compresses the cotton until it’s tight enough
to hold its shape. ♪♪ From the field, cotton will
be processed at a cotton gin. The large modules will
be fed into machines that clean and separate
the plant material. Combing devices pull the fluffy white fibers
from the plant and the seeds are collected for
later use in other products. Most of jay’s crop residue
remains on the land: that “no-till approach”
provides organic matter that reduces erosion and
improves water retention.>>I think they say
it takes 100 years to make one inch of topsoil so you have to be a good
steward to the land too, unless you don’t plan on
farming here for very long.>>And Jay is quick to point
out that improvements in plant varieties as
well as new techniques for fertilization and
pest management have given farmers a chance
to produce more while leaving a smaller
footprint on their land.>>There’s not a whole lot of
land left so we gotta do a much better job with the
land that’s available. It’s our responsibility to
preserve it, protect it, but also make it as
efficient as possible knowing that the
next generation; we want to turn it
over to them so that they have
the opportunity not only to provide food
and fiber for their time but also to pass it
onto their children. ♪♪>>Cotton production in
the United States began with the
colonists in Virginia. It then spread south
and west to Texas. When farmers began
irrigating crops, cotton production expanded
to Arizona and California. [sound of water dripping]>>So you’ve brought in the
cotton crop- what’s next? Well, most of us
already know that the majority of cotton
gets made into cloth… maybe for that skirt or
dress shirt in your closet. But what happens after
those big bales come in from the field?
Well, our Jason Shoultz says [kitten meows] before you make clothes,
you have to make yarn.>>Think about it.
T-Shirts, towels, all those white socks you own,
your favorite pair of jeans. Right now you’re
probably wearing something made from cotton.>>Well this company
was started in 1916 and it started up
as a thread company and then in World War II,
it converted to yarn to make gabardine pants
for the military.>>Anderson Warlick is
the president and CEO of North Carolina’s
Parkdale Mills. He’s seen his company grow
from one plant in 1961- to 34 plants today.>>Our company today is
gonna produce anywhere from 900 million to a billion
pounds of yarn per year.>>This plant in
Mineral Springs spins customized yarn
for printable t-shirts. All of the cotton that
comes through these doors is selected for
specific characteristics like strength,
uniformity and color.>>These bales are
500 pounds per bale and what we do is
we take this bale and we take the cover off
and we take the straps off.>>The bales are lined up under an automated feeder
that skims the tops- removing small tufts
of cotton as it goes.>>What we’re doing is
we’re taking off of 80 to 100 different bales, so we’re trying to
blend out the variability that is inherent in
any bale of cotton. So by taking it
off of 80 to 100 that we know the
characteristics of, we get a more
consistent blend.>>The tufts are delivered
to a machine that cleans and blends the cotton
into a homogenous mixture. From there, the rotating
cylinder will “comb” or “card” the tufts into
individual fibers.>>What we’re delivering
out the front are individual fibers
that are rope- in a ropelike structure
that we call sliver.>>Next, 6 strands are
combined into one in the drawing machine.>>And what a drawing
process is intended to do is parallel the fibers. Get them from being
individual fibers to aligning them…
side-by-side.>>There’s one
last step before individual cotton
strands become yarn: they will be twisted together
for strength and stability.>>Once we get ’em
parallel together, that machine uses a
rotor to spin the yarn and what we do is we put
those individual fibers in that rotor and add twist
and we can make a yarn.>>This machine then spins and
winds the yarn onto cones, wrapping it at more than
120 revolutions a minute.>>It is forming a yarn and the easiest way for me
to describe this to you if you’re not familiar
with a machine like this, it’s like throwing something
onto the end of a tornado. And what we’re throwing
onto the end of a tornado is not a trailer or
busses or things, but it’s individual fiber.>>Cotton yarn which will
then be packed, wrapped and shipped to a company
that uses the material to knit or weave
into t-shirts. But cotton goes into much
more than just clothes. In 2007, the company
acquired a firm making cotton-based
consumer products.>>Other uses in our company
would be cotton balls. We take the by-product waste
that we take out of the yarn and we bleach it and
we make a cotton ball, a cotton swab,
or a make-up pad.>>The U.S. Cotton Plant in
Charlotte, North Carolina recycles and re-uses cotton
that didn’t make it into yarn The production techniques
release cotton’s natural softness in
items most of us find in our bathrooms
or medicine chests.>>We are the largest user
in this country of cotton so it’s very, very important
that farmers are growing plenty of it so that we
have a lot to choose from but its also important
that we work together, work together to improve
production practices, work together to
improve quality, look at different
varieties of cotton.>>The mills here use a
significant portion of all the cotton grown
in the United States. And their additional
production facilities in Latin America
add to the supply… of products sold
at home and abroad.>>I think cotton is a very important product
for the world. Cotton employs a lot folks, gives a lot of people a
lot of great opportunities, and it’s a wonderful
product for the consumer. ♪♪>>We think about
blue jeans as a totally American invention,
but the cotton material they’re made from, denim,
was first created in France. Brought to this country, it was made into work
pants by Levi Strauss. ♪♪>>Alright, let’s spin off,
no pun intended, in a couple of directions
that take cotton far from the world of
clothing or blue jeans. A cotton gin will
separate the seeds from the cotton fiber. While the fiber is making
its way into clothing, those cotton seeds are taking
a very different direction. Welcome to the Lone Star
State, where cotton is king. Texas produces more cotton than any other state
in the nation. And here at PYCO
Industries in Lubbock, cottonseed is the primary
focus of their business.>>For years they had
cottonseed as a waste product There was a time when-
when it was given away and people didn’t
need it for anything ’til they figured out
that it had the oil in it. [sound of machinery]>>It can easily be
said that PYCO is “squeezing out a profit”
from cottonseed. This Texas firm is owned by
sixty cotton gin cooperatives and specializes in a
range of seed offerings made from that
one time waste product.>>Right now, our oil on
the crushed products carries about 53 percent
of our sales dollars.>>Out of a ton of cottonseed you make about
320 pounds of oil. And so, we will crank out… we make about
720,000 pounds a day. [metal lever squeaks]>>Almost around the clock,
dozens of big rigs deliver loads of
cottonseed from the gins. First stop… machines that
clean debris from the seed.>>When we clean it we
remove basically everything, all the foreign matter with
the exception of the seed. Sticks, rocks, metal, burrs. Anything that’s come into the
plant that’s not the seed.>>The seed then heads
to stripping machines called “de-linters”. They remove the tiny fibers of leftover lint
found on the seed. That collected “lint” ends
up being used in everything from mattress stuffing
to food products.>>And they’re used in
differing industries from papers to currency and
also made into cellulose, which is used in plastics, TV screens,
different things like that.>>By now the seeds look
like just what they are… black hulled cotton seeds. So… next step? These machines crack open
and separate the hull from the “meat” of the seed.>>Hulls are used in the
cattle feeding business. It’s a roughage, they use
that in the feed yard.>>The remaining
“heart” of the seed is smashed into flakes… …heated and
pressure treated into oily pellets
called collets. Those pellets pass
through a machine which finally separates
the oil from the meal.>>We’ll make about 900
pounds of cottonseed meal out of a ton of seed. And that’s for cattle feed. It’s a great protein…
41 percent protein.>>As for the oil. Shipped by rail, it goes
through one more process before being sold
for consumer use in everything from
salad oil to frying fats.>>We have a market place
that goes pretty much East Coast to West Coast. We have some potato chippers
that are on the East Coast that use quite a bit of
oil in making potato chips. And the Bay Area likes it for
the wok frying and so forth because of the attributes
that our oil has.>>Cottonseed is
your daily life. And that’s kind of
what we look at. It’s in everything
that we do. ♪♪>>An average cotton fiber is slightly more
than one inch long. That fiber is
a single cell… one of the largest cells
found in the plant kingdom. One other fact-
cotton can absorb more than 20 times its
weight in water.>>Cotton is grown across
the country from Alabama to California and it’s a crop
with a long growing season. Planting in Texas can
begin in early spring, but cotton may not be
planted until June in other parts of the country. Sarah Gardner says,
cotton farmers aside, some other folks are busy
with the crop year round.>>Cotton and cows
seem an unlikely pairing when it comes to agriculture, but here on the
Kleinpeter Dairy Farm in South Central Louisiana, cotton has become an
essential ingredient in the production of the farm’s
milk and other products. A century back, Jeff
Kleinpeter’s ancestors raised cotton
on this very land- pulling the fibers from the
plant in their own cotton gin and then looking for a way to use the leftover
seeds and hulls. Jeff, it was your
great-grandfather who started feeding cattle
cottonseed, isn’t that right?>>That’s correct.
He hated to waste anything. We had a steam-powered
cotton gin in Louisiana and the waste product was the
cottonseed and he was told by a LSU professor that
if we fed that to cows, we’d have the best
milk in the world. That was in 1910.>>Today, a large portion of all the cottonseed
produced in the U.S. is added to the feed mix
of cattle and dairy cows. The makeup of the meal,
seeds and hulls adds digestible protein and
fiber to their diets. Now when I look at the feed down
here on the ground, I can’t see cottonseed
but it’s in there. It’s a mix, right?>>It’s in there. It’s mixed up with-
with the feed itself. That’s an actual cottonseed, just like the end of
a Q-tip and we fix it- dip it in there and
mix it in there and fix it up for these
girls and the higher a protein diet we put them on, the higher the fat
content on the milk and the better the quality
of the milk will be for taste and texture so we’ve been feeding it to
our cows ever since 1910.>>While the Kleinpeters get their cottonseed
from outside sources, they grow other ingredients
like rye grass right on the property.>>We’re mixing seven
different ingredients for these cows so we really have
to give them a balanced diet, not only to get
great milk production but we need to take care
of this animal as well, keep her healthy for as
long as we can keep her because she’s an asset
to our family business.>>There’s another approach
to dairy production here that most of us
never think about. The farm’s 700 cows
get milked in a parlor where quiet is essential.>>Quiet in the
milking parlor means a cow is
gonna be relaxed, she’s gonna let
down more milk, she’s gonna milk out better, she’s gonna give better
quality milk for us and we believe that’s
the right thing to do, not only for the cow but
for our customers as well. ♪♪>>In addition to the milk, cream and other
fluid dairy products, the Kleinpeters have
added ice cream to their production
line in a bid to expand their operation
outside the immediate area.>>Well, we ship our milk and
dairy products and ice cream to all of Louisiana and part of the Gulf coast
of Mississippi and we’re looking into
Texas at this point in time so during the recession,
for our company to be growing for me is a special thing.>>And while the future is on
the family’s radar screen, Jeff admits that the efforts
of those in the past really set the tone in
creating a farming operation that’s sustainable today…
and tomorrow.>>Sustainability is very
important in our industry. That’s how we feed
cottonseeds today. It was a sustainable
practice back in 1910 to feed something to
animals that would otherwise go to waste and that’s how
we’re still moving today, moving forward not only
in the dairy farm industry but in our process
and packaging as well. ♪♪>>We call U.S. currency
‘paper money’ but the bills are
actually a blend of 75% cotton and 25% linen. Thousands of
100 dollar bills can be made from
one bale of cotton.>>We’ve traveled cross
country to share some stories about cotton and clothing…
even cattle feed. But the cottonseed oil
we mentioned earlier has long been a recipe staple in many kitchens across the
country and around the world. Jason Shoultz says the
cotton and cooking connection is especially important
to one restaurant in the Lone Star State. ♪♪>>Okay, today we’ve
got 150 people. We’re gonna do catfish
and fried chicken.>>The day starts early at River Smith’s Restaurant in
Lubbock, Texas where they’re not only known for their
fried chicken and catfish, but also for their particular
method of cooking.>>We cook it in the
cottonseed oil at about 350 degrees for
about five minutes, and it comes out
golden brown and the flavor
is just unbelievable.>>Cottonseed oil has been
used for cooking since the 1880s and was a key
ingredient in some of the first shortening
products sold worldwide. Today, the oil is used in
salad oil, mayonnaise, baked goods and snack foods
like potato chips. Since Texas is a major
cotton growing state, Paul sees his
culinary approach as supporting local farmers.>>When my customers come in, they ask where my
products come from, I can tell them it comes
from the South Plains. I know that my
farmers did that. And two, y’know,
it’s helping the people that are in here
buying food from me. Y’know, and if I can
keep them in business, then they’re gonna
keep me in business. ♪♪>>Okay guys, let’s go!
We’re ready to go! ♪♪>>A good portion of
Paul’s business is catering to community
activities in Lubbock and the surrounding area. He has a fitting customer
on this late summer morning- cooking for some
150 cotton growers at an annual cotton gin
co-op meeting. ♪♪ Once the buffet line is set
the cooking gets underway. More than a hundred pounds
of chicken pieces along with catfish fillets are
deep-fried to a golden brown.>>Once you pull it
out of this batter, you want to knock any
excess batter off, pat it a couple of times. That’ll also flatten
your fish out.>>As with everything in
cooking, timing is essential to delivering the
product to your plate.>>You can see on this
chicken right here, coming out to a
nice golden brown… You can see how
crunchy the outside is. And the inside, we cooked to
the right temperature, it’s still gonna
have all the juice and all the taste
that it needs to have. ♪♪>>Once the cottonseed fried
food is ready for the table.>>Yes sir, we are ready.>>Patrons line up to dig
into the country cooking laid out by River Smiths… ♪♪ …which keeps the
cooks hopping.>>You figure about four
pieces of catfish a person, so you’re looking at-
we’re going to do about probably 800
pieces of catfish.>>Some of the chemical
compounds in cottonseed oil give it heat stability
and a long shelf life: characteristics important
to cooks like Josh.>>Ya know, I can feed up
to 5,000- 5,500 people on just one- one stretch
of cottonseed oil as long as it’s been
filtered properly.>>Cooking traits aside,
for diners at this event the only focus is on taste.>>Well, I love River Smith’s. It makes it nice and crispy,
the cottonseed oil does.>>River Smith’s is a long
time Lubbock restaurant. We eat there quite a bit
during the regular year. So anytime they come out
to one of these functions, we try to be here.>>And for Paul and his crew,
the end of events like this generate an opportunity to
give their cottonseed oil another life
outside the fryer.>>We filter the grease
and take it to a bin, and then Valley Protein
out of Amarillo comes and picks it up,
and then they turn it into cattle feed for our
ranchers around Texas. So, y’know, it’s-
we’re giving back. Y’know, they-
they come pick it up, they produce the
food for the farmers, we’re givin’ back
to the ranchers after buying it from them,
y’know, it’s a great thing.>>Paul will tell you that
cottonseed, cooking, chicken and catfish are all part
of his family’s history. Just look at the
mural on the wall.>>That is actually my dad. We- all of our logos on
everything that we’ve got is “Ol’ Man River”
Bob Corcorran, the infamous River Smith’s
Catfish King, as they say… ♪♪>>I think we can safely say that you’re all
caught up on cotton. Hey, before we go
let’s remind you that our America’s Heartland
website has video from all our shows and links to other information
about agriculture. You’ll find us at
AmericasHeartland.org And if you’re busy in the
social media world as well, look for us on
Facebook and Twitter. Thanks for coming along,
we’ll see you next time right here on
America’s Heartland.>>You can purchase a DVD or
Blu-ray copy of this program. Here’s the cost: To order, just visit us
online or call 888-814-3923 ♪♪ ♪♪ You can see it in the eyes
of every woman and man ♪♪ ♪♪ In America’s Heartland,
livin’ close to the land ♪♪ ♪♪ There’s a love
for the country ♪♪ ♪♪ And a pride
in the brand ♪♪ ♪♪ In America’s Heartland ♪♪ ♪♪ Livin’ close…
close to the land ♪♪>>America’s Heartland is
made possible by…>>CropLife America-
Representing the companies whose modern
farming innovations help America’s farmers
provide nutritious food for communities
around the globe. The Fund for
Agriculture Education – A fund created by KVIE
to support America’s Heartland
programming. Contributors include
the following: