Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Cotton Elementary: The Cotton Picker and Harvest

Brad and the guys have been steadily picking cotton. Blair and I have been out there a few times but not as much as last year. Blair enjoys being on the picker, but she wants to press all the buttons!

pickin and ridin 102210 (75) pickin and ridin 102210 (77)

We fixed her a little seat, and it was perfect. She loves stuff her size!

This post is about the cotton picker, so I’ll get to that! Again, if you know more about the cotton picker than I do, just excuse my choice of terms. I’m only in Cotton Elementary after all!

This is the cotton picker. Brad’s picker is not one that bales cotton inside. Those are really nice, but they cost as much as a really, really nice house. This picker picks six rows at a time. Each row goes in between the little yellow triangular things. The cotton gets picked off of the plant, and it gets sucked up through the black chutes on either side of the cab and into the basket.

cotton picker 2010 (3)

This is what Brad calls a head. He drives the picker so that the cotton plant goes into the head and through those metal things you see in there.

cotton picker 2010 (4)pickin and ridin 102210 (79)

pickin and ridin 102210 (95)Poor thing hanging on to the window for dear life.

Each head has two cylinders that are covered in little long spiny cones. (Not the proper terminology, but hey, we’re still learning!) I just remembered… the cones are called spindles.

cotton picker 2010 (6)

These are spindles. They spin around while the cylinder also turns. As the cotton goes into the picker, the bolls come in contact with the spindles, and the little spiny things catch the cotton as they are turning and pull the cotton out of the boll.

cotton picker 2010 (11)

The cylinder keeps turning and the spindles pass through the yellow part you see below. Each spindle goes in between those yellow rubber pads (they’re called doffers) and the cotton is knocked off. It falls down below onto the floor of the head. (We have the side doors open, and when they are closed, the cotton is kept in there and is sucked up into the basket.)

cotton picker 2010 (7)

After the cotton gets knocked off, the spindles to in between the moistening pads you see on the door (on the left part of the picture). The pads clean the spindles, leaving them slightly moist – I’m guessing this helps them pull the cotton even better.

cotton picker 2010 (14)

There are actually two whole cylinders of spindles, two sets of yellow pads, and two sets of moistening pads, so the whole process happens twice per row. In other words, the cotton gets picked twice by each head. In this picture below, you can also see the reservoirs for the cleaning solution. It’s right at the top of the picture above the cleaning pads.

cotton picker 2010 (10)Above you can see both sets of spindles and both sets of moistening pads.

Below you can see the front and back spindles. And on the floor, you can see how it is worn from the cotton passing through.

cotton picker 2010 (15)

After the cotton is picked,  it goes up into the black chutes on each side of the cab.

cotton picker 2010 (16)

And here you can see how the chutes lead up to the big basket that holds the cotton.

cotton picker 2010 (18)

The basket looks like it is covered in cobwebs – dirty cotton!

cotton picker 2010 (19)

So what happens when the basket gets full? Well, the picker tells Brad with an alarm, and he turns on his flashers to signal to the guys to bring the boll buggy. He dumps the cotton into the boll buggy which transports it to the module builder.

pickin and ridin 102210 (74)    Brad dumping the cotton into the boll buggy.

The boll buggy goes up to the module builder. (Here it’s not completely full. I got this picture when he was moving up some so that the module builder wouldn’t overflow.)

cotton harvest 2010 (4)cotton harvest 2010 (3)  Into the module builder. You can see two modules behind it.

cotton harvest 2010 (26)Cotton going into the module builder. It’s almost full so he has to be careful not to let it go everywhere.

The module builder has a big press that mashes the cotton down.

cotton harvest 2010 (8)

Someone has to operate the module builder. They can put it on automatic, but it doesn’t work as well.

cotton harvest 2010 (29)

When they finish a module they open the back of the module builder and pull it forward with the tractor. They put a top on the module, tag it, and the gin will come get it.

cotton harvest 2010 (33)

That’s about all I know about that! If you missed the other lessons, you can find them here.


Amy said...

one of my good friend's husband is a farmer in macon. she took their little girl out to the cotton field the other day to take some pictures and lost her keys somewhere in the field....she still hasn't found them :)
love blair's hair in pigtails in the first pictures!

CHERI said...

I'm sure this post will bring back (fond?) memories for your Uncle Johnny! Think I've decided to wait on the lens until I can learn more about my camera and how to take good pictures. The last time J spent a lot of money on a lens for me (years ago) I never wound up using it that much.

Janet Phillips said...

I so want to go and see some cotton being harvested. I have seen pictures on a lot of different blogs and it just looks like it would be cool to watch. Maybe next year I will have to grow some in my garden...haha

You did a great job explaining. It's ok if the terminology not exactly right, mine never is and Caleb tells me about it all the time.

Janet Phillips said...

oh and your little Blair looks soo cute sittin' there in the cab of the picker!!!

Steph said...

Good job! The yellow pads are called "doffers" and the cleaning pads are called "moistener pads". Obviously I spend way too much time in the cotton field, lol. Blair looks like a future cotton packer to me! (Thats what I am, ha).

AA said...

Love this, Ash!! Sorry I just got to it...crazy week. So how clean is the cotton at the end of the process? And how does Brad line up all 6 heads? It sounds hard to do. So interesting. Thanks for the lesson! PS Love the pic of Blair on your FB profile. She is precious!

Ashley said...
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Ashley said...

I am loving the lessons on cotton. I live right across the street from several fields in Perry and love to watch the cotton grow and get harvested!

Richard said...

Great pictures!!! I drove a two row picker in the early 80's. Fun to see the head doors opened up. Brings back great memories. Thanks!

Unknown said...

I remember my dad stopping at a random farmer's place while traveling (probably because I was asking so many questions). The farmer took me through and explained the process of stripping cotton as you just did. My dad then took me to a cotton gin and explained how that process worked... Fond memories! Thanks for sharing!!!