After harvesting, cotton is either stored on the edge of the field in big mounds called "modules" or loaded onto trailers and shipped to the gin. Cotton is transported to the gin in cotton trailers. It is either loosely or tightly packed. If the cotton is tightly packed in modules, the modules are put in trucks called module movers. The cotton is then taken to the gin. At the gin, powerful pipes suck the cotton into the building and through cleaning machines that remove the trash, like burs, dirt, stems, and leaf material from the cotton. Then, it goes to the gin stand where circular saws with small, sharp teeth pull the fiber from the seed. If there is too much moisture in the cotton, it is also dried in the gin stand.
From the gin, fiber and seed go different ways. The ginned fiber, now called lint, is pressed together and made into great big bales that weigh about five hundred pounds. About thirty-five percent of each pound of cotton is lint, and the rest is seed. The farmer gets paid for both the lint and the seed. To determine the value of the cotton, samples are taken from each bale and classed according to fiber length, strength, width, color, and cleanliness. Once the cotton is baled it is sent to cotton merchants.
Growers usually sell their cotton to a local buyer or merchant who, in return, sells it to a textile mill either in the U.S. or in a foreign country. In California, Cal-Cot is a marketing cooperative. It is grower owned, meaning that the growers "own" the company and profits are distributed to the growers based on the amount and quality of cotton that the grower produced that year. Cal-Cot actively seeks out buyers (foreign and domestic) and sells to these buyers the type of cotton they are looking for. Being a part of the co-op means that the grower can focus his or her attention on growing better crops and feel confident that Cal-Cot will get the best price for the crop.
Once the cotton is sent to cotton merchants, the remaining seed is sold by the gin. If the gin is a co-op, meaning it is grower owned, the money for the seed is given to the farmer. The gin can sell the seed as feed for animals. It can also sell the seed to a mill where it is crushed and the oil is extracted, or the seed can be sold to a de-linter. At the delinters, the fuzzy fibers are removed in a process much like ginning. This lint is baled and used for paper, batting, and plastic. The cleaned seed that remains after delinting is then processed for use in the planting of next year's crop.