From Suffolk to the World: Cotton Gin of Suffolk

Published 7:27 pm Friday, April 21, 2023

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After a long history of cotton production, Suffolk saw it dwindle away decades ago. But one local business owner has helped provide its comeback with the city providing it around the nation and the world.

One of the four remaining cotton gins in Virginia is in Suffolk, with the others in Windsor, Franklin and Emporia.

The Suffolk Cotton Gin provides distribution of cotton to various states in the U.S., such as Alabama, as well as various markets overseas such as China, S. Korea and Turkey. Suffolk Cotton Gin owner and retired President Morris Glover looked back on the gin’s humble beginnings and how the process works for those new to agricultural life.

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“The cotton left Suffolk before my time. When I was farming in 1994 and ‘95, it started coming back into this area, because they got rid of the boll weevil. The boll weevil used to eat it up. Everytime you’d plant it, they would just eat it up,” Glover reflected. “So in 1994, they started growing cotton and I was a peanut buyer and a grain buyer up in town for G & G Farm Service. They were taking land and putting in cotton, which made me get less business. So I decided to open up a cotton gin and get some of the cotton to fill in the gaps.” 

After buying a cotton gin to start the business, Glover realized he needed others to help his business grow.

“I went to Texas and bought a used gin and it was a bigger project that I could handle by myself, so I took partners in,” he said.

Glover explained the general process of farmers growing the crop. 

After picking the cotton, trucks are sent out to pick up the harvest and gin it. Afterwards, all the collected cotton is put into warehouse store form to sell and distribute in the U.S. and overseas. 

“We have warehouses that store all the gin,” Glover said. “We keep it right here, and then we ship it. Some days you don’t ship any, the next day you’ll ship more. But the average is about five to six loads a day year around.”

Adding to the mix for his business, he also is involved with the cotton seed market. 

“We also ship the seeds out that we take out the cotton. That’s what the gin does, gets the seed and trash out,” Glover explained. “We bale that and sell it to cow feeders, and then we bale the cotton and ship that separate. We got three things: seed, cotton and the trash. We sell all of it. Don’t get much for the trash, but we sell it.”

He stressed the importance of the seeds in his operation.

“The seed is how we get our money. We sell the seed to get money to pay for all the people working here and the electric bill, the supplies, fuel and all that,” Glover said. “The farmer gets all the money for the cotton. We don’t take anything out the cotton, only thing we get is the seed. We get the seed for doing the work and hauling it in and shipping it out for them.”