Cotton harvesters play an important role in helping farmers reduce labor costs and pick bolls as they open. A quality harvest depends on a number of factors, including proper machine adjustment and operation.
Once the bolls are picked, they go into what’s known as a module builder. This large machine packs the cotton into eight to twelve bale modules.
If you live or travel in Texas this fall, chances are you’ll see cotton harvesting going on. Cotton is ready for harvesting when the bolls burst open and expose the fluffy white fiber inside. This usually happens in mid-July for South Texas and September through early November for northern parts of the state. When it’s time to harvest, the bolls are separated from the plant’s leaves and stalk using a machine called a cotton picker or a cotton stripper. The bolls are then dropped into a basket and moved to a boll buggy pulled by a tractor.
The cotton is transported from the boll buggy to a module builder, which builds modules of cotton that are then tarped and placed on the ground. This prevents moisture damage until the modules are ginned. Once the cotton is ginned, it’s ready to be made into clothing and other textile products.
To minimize loss and ensure the quality of the cotton, farmers use chemicals known as harvest aids. These chemicals stimulate the plants to open bolls, drop leaves, and desiccate so that the lint is easier to separate from the plant during mechanical harvesting. The harvest aids also help the plant mature quickly to maximize yield and reduce the risk of weather threats that could degrade the fiber. Farmers can apply the harvest aids with a sprayer or by crop duster, which is a specialized airplane.
A patented packer/divider door is another important feature of the boll buggy. It not only packs the initial dumps (which increase capacity by as much as 33 percent) but also divvies up the buggy load while dumping, preventing the conveyor or regulator from being flooded with too much cotton at one time. The divider door also improves the distribution of cotton in each module, which produces tighter, more dense modules that resist weather damage.
The boll buggy’s unique Big Lip design makes pulling alongside a Module Builder easy and eliminates the need to precisely time the unloading chains with the forward motion of the tractor. This also allows the cotton to be easily dumped in the center of the Module Builder, virtually eliminating cotton spills during transfer. In addition, the Big Lip folds down into the basket when not in use, which increases the top dumping height to 14’ 8” and adds 49” of builder wall clearance to the basket pivot point. This allows even and level dumping, reducing sanding time and improving overall Module Builder performance.
In this video, Chad and Heather Hardy of Haywood County, Tennessee, used a cotton harvester to announce the gender of their baby at a gender reveal party. The couple was eager to share their exciting news with friends and family but wanted something unique and fun. After a few months of planning and preparation, they lined up their guests in front of the machine and pulled a string attached to a pipe, sending a cloud of pink powder and confetti into the air. After years of struggle with infertility, the couple was thrilled to learn they would welcome a baby girl into their lives this fall.
The module builder is a revolutionary attachment that has helped solve a major logistical problem in the cotton industry by compressing cotton into large modules for easy transport to the gin. It saves significant time and expense for both the cotton producer and the ginner by reducing handling and transportation costs.
Cotton pickers should be operated for the best results when relative humidity is below 70% (lint moisture of 8% or less). High humidity will reduce picking efficiency and may cause excessive wear on the picker grid bars, defoliator pads, moistener pads, doffers, and spindles. If the conditions are too humid, the harvest should be delayed until the weather is more favorable.
When selecting a cotton picker, look for one that has a higher number of rows in the field to maximize harvesting efficiency and gin throughput. A higher row count also helps to improve yields by allowing more bolls to be harvested in each cycle. Also, consider a model with the most advanced technology available. The C770 Series harvesters feature JDLink connectivity, which allows you to easily transfer and analyze data from your machine and connect with John Deere specialists for remote diagnostics and support. Use tools like the Documentation and Field Analyzer application to capture, monitor, and manage your data.
To maintain a high level of performance, the cotton picker parts and components should be regularly inspected and maintained. Checking the picker grid bar to ensure it is in good condition and adjusting the position of the cylinder lift rams can help improve harvesting efficiency. It is also important to regularly inspect and replace the lint filter, which prevents the accumulation of lint in the picker. Additionally, lubricating the chain and checking the oil levels will keep your cotton harvester running smoothly.
The cotton plant grows in round to oval-shaped pods called bolls. At maturity, the bolls pop open, exposing white fibers inside that look like cotton candy.
The plant requires good soil nutrition, water, and sun to thrive. To maximize the plant’s potential, weeds and grass must be eliminated to free the crop from full growth. This is done with machines known as cultivators. They work to uproot weeds and grass in the field while being gentle enough not to damage the cotton.
At planting time, the cotton seeds are inserted into small holes in the ground with a mechanical device called a seed drill. The seed is then covered with dirt and packed down by another machine called a planter. The planters can cover up to 24 rows at a time.
The seed cotton blossoms or squares begin to form about two months after planting. The squares eventually wither, fall, and turn brown as they ripen. Then, moist fibers push out of the boll and burst into fluffy cotton candy. The harvested cotton is then put in a storage bin referred to as a basket, where it is transferred to a boll buggy or module builder for further processing.
There are two main types of cotton harvesters, pickers and strippers. A picker removes lint from the cotton and can replace up to 40 hand laborers in one row. A stripper is more like a vacuum cleaner and removes a lot of the plant as well, including unopened bolls.
Proper harvester adjustment and operation are critical to achieving high quality. This includes proper doffing (adding weight to the row units), maintaining adequate height for picking, and minimizing plant debris and shed leaf loss, which reduces quality. Row unit tilt is another important factor that can help. It positions the row units so that the lowest spindles in the bars enter the plant at the lowest height possible while still allowing them to maintain their position as they move through each plant. This helps to reduce the dragging of the plants’ shed leaves and other debris.
The cotton harvester is a machine that helps farmers save money on labor and time spent in the field. Its use can help lower operating expenses for the farm and provide a better-quality product for the consumer. However, just like any other machine, it will eventually require maintenance or repair. Knowing the right parts to look for ensures that the cotton harvester functions properly.
A new John Deere cotton harvester offers enhanced technology that can help growers reduce costs while boosting yields and crop quality. The C770 series features a redesigned engine and hydraulic power module to improve fuel efficiency and reduce maintenance needs. It also utilizes field-proven TamaWrap+™ to protect fiber quality and prevent degradation from the field to the gin.
In addition to these improvements, the C770 series features JDLink connectivity. This allows operators to access machine and field information at any time through a desktop computer or mobile device. It can also be used to communicate with dealers and other farm partners. Users can also monitor module moisture and weight through the Harvest ID and Cotton Pro applications, which will help gins prioritize modules for movement to their facilities.
As a result of these enhancements, the C770 series is capable of harvesting more pounds of cotton per hour than previous models. It can also harvest more acres of cotton in less time. This will reduce labor and operating costs and allow producers to meet the growing demand for cotton products.
There are two main types of cotton harvesters: strippers and pickers. Stripper-type harvesters remove open and unopened bolls, stems, and leaves from the plant to leave only the desired fiber. This method can increase harvesting speed and yield, but it may decrease the overall quality of the fiber.
Picker-type harvesters are similar to stripper harvesters but use rotating spindles to delicately remove the fiber from the plant. They can be used for a variety of cotton varieties and offer a gentler approach to harvesting, which preserves the integrity of the fibers. This technique can result in a higher-quality end product, but it can be more expensive than using strippers.