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My Turn

Purchasing Equipment To Increase Efficiency?

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When contemplating increasing the efficiency of cotton harvesting equipment, the old adage “Necessity is the mother of invention” could be tweaked to read: “Picking cotton by hand is the mother of invention.”

In researching this theory, we ran across an interesting video on YouTube titled “Mule-Drawn Cotton Picker.” The description of the footage reads as follows: “Demonstration of a Model 31 John Deere Cotton Picker (or shredder) in Sycamore, Ga., on Oct. 9, 2010. [Although the picker was] originally designed to be pulled by a mule, a vintage John Deere tractor was used to demonstrate its use. The mule- drawn cotton picker was first patented in 1859 and was from Tennessee.”

This particular machine, sporting fairly large spoke wheels, is a gray metal contraption with a man perched on top of it. He is operating some type of levers, and the cotton appears to be going into a dump-type area located in the back. Although this picker is slowly harvesting one row of cotton at a time, it’s clearly an improvement over picking cotton by hand with a sack thrown over one’s back. Some sources claim that these pickers were capable of replacing up to 40 hand laborers.

The International Harvester Com-pany was also involved in producing a mechanical cotton picker. According to Wikipedia, in approximately the mid-1940s, the company “perfected the single-row mechanical cotton picking machine” at Hopson Plantation, which is located on Highway 61 near Clarksdale, Miss.

Today’s cotton harvesters and other related pieces of equipment continue to increase efficiency all through the season, especially when it is time to get the crop out of the field and moved on to the gin.

In April, we asked our readers if they have recently upgraded or plan to upgrade equipment that is related to cotton harvest to increase the efficiency of their operation. Several factors appeared to influence the responses, resulting in 60 percent of the respondents choosing “yes” or “it depends.” Following is a sampling of the comments that we received:

• “I bought a used 9986 in December to give me two six-row pickers only because we plant with a 12-row and picked with a six-row and a four-row. I’m on the downhill side of my farming career and don’t plan to spend any more than necessary to finish it out.”

• “We bought a new planter 2012.”

• “I bought a used baler picker.”

• “I purchased a John Deere picker that makes the round bales. So far, it has been a win-win situation. It did very good in 2012.”

• “My profit margin is tight enough right now, and I have no room to play.”

• “I’m not buying any harvest equipment because I hire custom pickers.”

• “I am waiting for John Deere to have a cotton stripper with a baler attachment like the pickers have.”

• “I bought a new cotton stripper, but it won’t be efficient without rain!”

• “I am looking for a good six-row cotton picker.”

• “I hope to purchase a used stripper with a 30-foot header so as to harvest eight rows of two and one skip-rows.”

This month, we are polling our readers to determine which factor they believe will most affect their planting and/or early season cotton crop management: Winter/spring weather conditions, water availability, insect pressure/nematodes or weed pressure.

Go to to cast your vote and share your comments. Results of the May Web Poll will be reported in the June issue of Cotton Farming.

Web Poll Results

Have you recently upgraded or do you plan to upgrade any of your equipment related to cotton harvest to help increase efficiency?

• Yes – 32 %

• No – 60 percent

• It depends – 8 %

May Web Poll Question

In your opinion, which one of the following will most affect your planting and/or early season cotton crop management? Please explain why in the “Comments” section.

(1) Winter/spring weather conditions

(2) Water availability

(3) Insect pressure/nematodes

(4) Weed pressure

Register your vote at

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