Cotton Harvest

The fall time of the years brings back lots of memories when I was young. Like most things in life, their have been a lot of changes. Most of them are good in the harvesting of cotton out of the fields. In this respects, the changes have been good.

When I was real you, they still picked cotton by hand. We have several workers from Mexico that would come over here to pick cotton. I remember they would drag a large cotton sack behind them. I guess it was around 15′ long. It was heavy when loaded with cotton. Once it was full, they would weight it with a scale supported by a tripod. The weight was recorded and the sack was emptied into a large trailer. It was a slow process.

Next, we went to striping cotton with a machine. A tractor had a striper on it. This striper consisted of row units that would strip the cotton off of the plant, then blow it back into a trailer that was being pulled by the tractor. This process required someone in the trailer to fork it back to the back of the trailer. He also packed it down so as to get more cotton in the trailer. This is where I came in. It was a dirty job to say the least.

Next, we went to a cotton striper with a basket on top it to hold the striped cotton. When it was full, it was dumped into a cotton trailer. Once the trailer was full, it was taken to the gin. At first, these cotton striper where on 2 rows. This was still a slow process with only one unit. Later, 4 row units would come into play. We never had a 4 row unit as they were dedicated to just cotton striping. The 2 row units could have the cotton striper removed and the tractor was available for other farm work throughout the year. I would put a lot of miles on a 2 row cotton strip but it was later.

The next phase was the same type of cotton striper but we used a module to put the cotton in. It was packed down with a large packer. Once the module was full, it was raised up and the unit pulled off of the cotton leaving a large cotton module. This required the gin to send a truck that could handle that much weight. This is what I did the most, driving the cotton striper. When cabs on tractors came along, it wasn’t to bad as it kept the dust out. This required a driver for the striper and one man for the module. Otherwise, the tractor drive had to get off at each dumping and pack the cotton which slowed things down some.

When you harvesting, speed is of the essence because bad weather can stop the cotton harvesting. Rain or snow will bring the harvest to a complete stop. Therefore, you tried to get it out of the field very fast. It was a slow process to begin with so you had to stay with it. I remember when my first daughter, Cali Bryn, was born, I was striping cotton then. I was only off the tractor for a day. You just had to stay after it.

I have since gotten off the cotton farm, but progress has continued on.

Attached you will see a photo of a cotton picker today. This photo was taken by Gene Gulley, a prominent farm in the Veribest/Mereta area. Gene was on the Farm Bureau County Board when I was still adjusting for them. This unit is a 4 row cotton picker when a rear entry discharge. It picks the cotton instead of striping it. Picking is where the cotton is taken out of the hull. It is then pressed into a round bale, much like how grass hay is done. It is laid on the ground and the cotton picker continues on. This increases the speed of harvest. Another tractor picks up the round bale with two forks on the rear of the tractor. It is then taken to the edge of the field where 4 round bales are placed side by side so the truck can pick them up to take to the gin. Some of the cotton pickers are very expensive, running in the range of $750,00 to $900,00. At that price you have to keep them busy to pay for themselves.

You’ll notice the photo below. This is at sundown. If the weather permits, you keep on going, even after sundown.  Such is the nature of the cotton harvest.

What are your experiences or comments with fall cotton harvest?

Cotton picker at sundown. Photo by Gene Gulley

You can skip to the end and leave a response. Pinging is currently not allowed.

Leave a Reply

Powered by AWS
Share via
Copy link
Powered by Social Snap