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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

Research Project: HARVESTING AND GINNING PROCESSES TO ENHANCE THE PROFITABILITY OF STRIPPER COTTON

Location: Cotton Production and Processing Research

Title: Evaluation of modern cotton harvest systems on irrigated cotton: Yarn quality

Authors
item Faulkner, W -
item Wanjura, John
item Hequet, E -
item Boman, R -
item Shaw, B -
item Parnell Jr, C -

Submitted to: Applied Engineering in Agriculture
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: May 15, 2011
Publication Date: July 1, 2011
Citation: Faulkner, W.B., Wanjura, J.D., Hequet, E.F., Boman, R.K., Shaw, B.W., Parnell Jr., C.B. 2011. Evaluation of modern cotton harvest systems on irrigated cotton: Yarn quality. Applied Engineering in Agriculture. 27(4):523-532.

Interpretive Summary: Over the past decade, the market for US cotton has largely shifted from domestic mills to foreign mills. Commensurately, High Plains cotton, which was traditionally used in domestic open-end mills for producing coarser yarns for less expensive products, has been purchased by foreign ring-spinning mills that are producing finer yarns for more expensive end-uses. The recent increases in cotton yields on the High Plains coupled with a change in market demands have raised interest in picker harvesters in the region because picker harvesters are perceived to maintain fiber quality characteristics better than strippers, and may be able to harvest cotton at higher speeds in high yielding stands. As part of a multi-year study on holistically comparing picker and stripper based harvest systems, the objective of this manuscript was to document quality differences in yarn produced from stripper and picker harvested cotton on the Texas High Plains. Few differences were detected in carded yarn quality between harvest treatments, while more pronounced differences favoring picked cotton were seen in combed yarns, especially when fibers were immature. However, picked samples had significantly fewer fibers combed out as noils in 2007 and from Site 6 in 2008 compared to stripped samples. During both 2006 and 2007, the evenness of combed yarns was improved by picking over stripping as measured by yarn CV, thick places, and neps (+200%), and the hairiness of carded yarns was reduced by picking. In 2007, cultivar had a greater impact on yarn quality than harvest treatment. Yarns from 2008 showed better quality characteristics than similar count yarns from 2007 even though fiber maturity was better in 2007. These differences are likely due to improved cultivars. Improved yarn quality through improved harvesting methods will boost the competitiveness of US cotton on the world market.

Technical Abstract: The effects of harvest methods (cotton picker vs. cotton stripper) on yarn quality from irrigated cotton harvested on the High Plains of Texas with modern equipment was measured using multiple cultivars from six sites over three years. Few differences were detected in carded yarn quality between harvest treatments, while more pronounced differences favoring picked cotton were seen in combed yarns, especially when fibers were immature. During both 2006 and 2007, the evenness of combed yarns was improved by picking over stripping as measured by yarn CV, thick places, and neps (+200%), and the hairiness of carded yarns was reduced by picking. In 2007, cultivar had a greater impact on yarn quality than harvest treatment. This study represents the first commercial-scale harvester comparison project conducted in the High Plains region and the first study to analyze the effects of harvest method on ring-spun yarn quality from a traditional production system.

Last Modified: 4/19/2014
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