Cotton harvesting season differs among the various sections of the country because the growing season is different in many areas. While cotton can be planted as soon as February in places like southern Texas, it cannot be planted until June in places like Missouri. Planting the cotton and harvesting it is pretty much universal in its methods. Cotton picking machines have spindles that separate the seed cotton from the burrs which are attached to the stems of each plant.
At that point, a mechanism called a doffer removes the seed cotton from the aforementioned spindles and directs the seed cotton on to a conveyor system. Cotton spinners can be used instead of cotton pickers, but regardless of the type of harvester being used, in all cases, air will be used to transport the seed cotton into a kind of storage area which is referred to as a cotton basket. When that basket gets full of cotton, the accumulated cotton is transferred into a boll buggy or a trailer, so it can be transported efficiently back to a processing center.
What is cotton harvesting?
There’s a great deal that goes into growing and cultivating cotton crops, and harvesting is pretty much the final stage of the entire process. Of course, it’s also one of the most important stages of the process, and it’s critical that all cotton is harvested before it suffers any damage from the weather, which would degrade its high quality and thereby reduce the yield for the crop.
Harvesting begins in the U.S. in July in areas like southern Texas, where it is routinely planted much earlier in the season. In more northern climates, cotton can be harvested as late as October or November. When harvesting takes place, special machines called stripper harvesters use rollers or mechanical brushes to extract the complete boll from the cotton plant. This is the approach mainly used in Oklahoma and Texas.
In other areas of the cotton belt, different types of harvesting machines called spindle pickers are used, and these types of harvesters extract the cotton from open bolls by using barbed spindles that revolve and entwine the cotton fibers. After it has separated the cotton from the boll, the boll is released. Before cotton can be delivered to the gin, it must be removed from the harvesting machine and accumulated into compact units called modules. These cotton modules are shaped something like a huge loaf of bread and can weigh upwards of 25,000 pounds.
When is cotton harvesting season?
The cotton harvesting season begins in July in some of the most southern states in this country, and it extends all the way into November for the more northerly states. Regardless of where cotton is grown, the time to harvest it is when the bolls crack open on their own, and the puffy white fibrous material inside is exposed.
If you were to grow your own plot of cotton and harvest it by hand, you would want to wear a thick pair of gloves, because cotton bolls are fairly sharp and they have a tendency to dig into your skin. Without gloves, it wouldn’t be long before your hands and arms were fairly well scarred. When you’re actually picking cotton, you have to grasp the cotton ball right at the base of the plant and twist it out of the boll.
Each time you pick a cotton ball, you would then put it into a bag that is slung over your shoulder, so that you can move onto the next plant. Although most of the cotton plants in your field will be ready at approximately the same time, there will generally be a difference of a few days where plants ripen during that time frame and are ready to be picked.
If a specific plant has not yet burst open, it should be left and harvested several days afterward. Once all the cotton has been harvested, it must be spread out in a darkened cool area that is well ventilated, so that the cotton can dry out. At this point, the cotton seeds need to be pulled away from the cotton fibers manually, and then you will have cotton that can be used. Even the seeds can be used because they can be planted to produce another harvest.
What equipment is used in cotton harvesting?
At one time, cotton was manually harvested by laborers out in the field, and this was a very worker-intensive way of gathering all the cotton. Nowadays, however, almost all cotton is harvested by machine, and there are two major types of cotton harvesters which are used to accomplish the gathering, at least when a high volume of the acreage is involved.
Another material that is used to process cotton are various chemicals such as defoliants that should be applied as the cotton crop nears its mature stage. The defoliants will help the plants to rise up and remain erect while dropping their leaves, and the defoliants also contribute to helping each plant open more easily, which makes harvesting much less difficult.
Once it’s time to actually harvest the cotton, either a cotton harvester or a cotton stripper will be used to gather up all the cotton bolls. Cotton pickers make use of a spindle that extracts the cotton from the plant and creates a large cube of cotton that has the seeds still inside, but that are ready for the next step in processing. A cotton picker will move through a field with rotating beds of barbed spindles, for the purpose of removing the cotton from the plant.
This material is then passed to the doffer, which rotates in the opposite direction and doffs the cotton into a basket for collection. After the basket becomes full, it gets transferred to a module builder, which serves as a kind of trash compactor and forms the extracted cotton into a big cube. These large cubes are then stored in a warehouse awaiting further processing.
A cotton stripper machine works a little differently than a cotton picker machine, in that it simply removes the top part of the plant as you drive down the rows of your field. Then a screening action removes all the lint from the plant so that it can be transferred to a basket that is situated in the rear of the machine. The unwanted debris then falls to the ground as the lint material is processed, and this results in a much cleaner cotton lint after picking, but it does not produce a compact harvested product.
Where can you buy cotton harvesting parts?
One of the best places in the country to buy your cotton harvesting parts is at Certi-Pik USA, headquartered in Hospers, Iowa. We can supply virtually any component needed by either your cotton picker or cotton stripper. We manufacture high-quality components that fit top brands of machinery, like John Deere and Case/IH, so that all merchandise sold is exactly what’s called for in any given cotton machine by the maker.
Certi-Pik USA is one of the most trusted providers of cotton picker parts in the country. We aim to ship out orders on the same day they are received or the next business day. The best shipping service is used so that you experience as little downtime as possible and can keep your machine in the field harvesting, so no weather damage can harm the crop or decrease your crop yield.