Cotton Links


10 Picker Pointers

By Carroll Smith
Senior Writer

As fall approaches, it’s time to get your picker into top shape and keep it properly maintained during harvest season. Herb Willcutt, Ag and Bio Engineering at Mississippi State University, offers 10 picker pointers to help your ma-chine operate safely and efficiently.

1. Conduct a thorough cleaning and inspection of the picker. Make sure the battery will hold a charge and start reliably. Check lubricant levels and change hydraulic fluids on a yearly basis. Service the drive train.

2. Check the tires for inflation pressure and condition. With properly inflated tires, the picker will not bounce nearly as much, so the row-unit height control sensor will operate correctly and prevent the loss of cotton on the stalk as well as on the ground.

3. Evaluate the condition of the row unit in terms of wear, spindle sharpness, row-unit hours and broken spindles or ones that do not turn. Spindles and spindle bushings probably don’t need to be replaced more than every 400 to 600 hours. (Three seasons approximately equal 600 hours on most Mid-South pickers). Check each bar for the proper height. Shim the bars within one to three thousandths of an inch of each other. Look for any broken or bent bars or a broken cam arm on top.

4. Adjust doffer-to-spindle clearance to about three thousandths of an inch – the thickness of a dollar bill. The leading edge of the doffer lug should be very sharp, so the doffer will perform the way it should.

5. Clean and flush the spindle cleaner solution tank. Note whether the regulating spray nozzles in the moistening system are working correctly. If the pattern is unusual, clean the strainer or replace the nozzle.

6. Check the operator’s manual for correct starting pressures, such as moistening system pressure and tension on the
compressor doors in the row unit. Make sure the door springs are not broken.

7. Check the row-unit tilt. Set the row unit in the front about an inch to an inch and a half at the front of the cabinet lower than the back edge of the cabinet to allow the front lower spindle to enter the row at a lower position. Relative motion of the spindle is then slightly up the stalk as it stands and turns in the row of stalks. Make sure the tip of the plant lifter is an inch higher than the front edge of the row unit cabinet to avoid “plowing” the soil.

8. During harvest season, center the harvester on the row if it has an automatic guidance system. This allows the stalk to come in with its main stem centered on the length of the spindle and adjacent to the front drum ribs.

9. Avoid picking at night after relative humidity rises above 70 percent.

10. Using an industrial type air compressor is probably the most effective way to clean the machine thoroughly and quickly. It can be used to clean the basket, chassis and engine compartments, radiators and row units.

Following these pointers helps ensure retaining the highest percentage of your crop. Even a slight percentage yield loss in the field adds up when you consider the amount of acres a picker covers during harvest season.

Contact Carroll Smith at (901) 767-4020 or csmith@onegrower.com.


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