Several changes have taken place in the USDA cotton classing system, according to Keith Maloney, area director of the classing office at Dumas, Ark.

“As of June 27, the Washington headquarters was moved to the Memphis USDA cotton complex,” he said at recent area meetings of the Southern Cotton Ginners Association.

Prior to that, changes had included closure of the Phoenix, Ariz., office with all classing there transferred to Visalia, Calif.; the closure of the Birmingham, Ala., office, with classing transferred to Macon, Ga., and Memphis; and closure of the Lamesa, Texas office for the 2011 season for office renovations and increase of classing capacity. Cotton will be shipped to Lubbock, Texas, for classing until service at the Lamesa office is resumed.

For 2011, Maloney says, an instrument trash measurement will be used for cotton classing. The imaging system uses a camera that captures four pictures per sample for analysis of percent area of trash in the sample and the number of trash particles in the sample. The window size is 9 square inches.

Trash measurements of percent area and particle count will be utilized in an equation to calculate a leaf grade based on the Universal Leaf Grade Standards.

“There has been much improvement in the HVI trash measurement testing process in recent years,” Maloney notes. “It now offers more precise and consistent leaf grade measurement. The plan is to report HVI leaf grade as the official grade for all 2011 crop cotton.”

Effective October 1, changes to the cotton program billing and collecting procedures will be adopted, he says.

Under the Financial Management Modernization Initiative, invoices will be created at local offices for services, monthly and end of season. Invoices will be submitted to the USDA’s National Finance Center, which will generate bills and send them to collecting agents. Collecting agents will submit payments to a lock box, not back to the local office, and they will be posted to the appropriate program account.

The local offices will have access to payment information prior to the next billing cycle.

The changes are the result of Office of Budget and Management mandates, defining management responsibilities for internal financial controls in federal agencies, Maloney notes.

For the 2010 crop, he says, the Dumas office classed 709,650 bales from Mississippi, more than double 2009’s 345,667 bales.

Color 31 and up was 77.1 percent of bales classed; color 41 was 16.9 percent; color 51 was 0.2 percent; and light spotted was 5.6 percent.

Average mike was 4.93; average length was1.088; average strength was 29.69; average uniformity 81.29; and average leaf was 3.44.

For Arkansas, 301,731 bales were classed for the 2010 crop, up from 203,182 in 2009.

Color 31 and up was 82.2 percent of bales classed; color 41 was 17.1 percent; color 51 was 0.1 percent; and light spotted was 0.6 percent.

The average mike was 4.93; average length was 1.094; average strength was 29.92; average uniformity was 81.50; and average leaf was 3.48.

For the 2011 crop, Maloney says, the classing fee will remain at $2.20, with a 5-cent discount to collecting agents.