Submitted to: ASABE Annual International Meeting
Publication Type: Abstract Only
Publication Acceptance Date: 4/1/2007
Publication Date: N/A
Citation: Interpretive Summary:
Technical Abstract: Over a fourth of the cotton bales in the U.S. since 2002 have been produced in Texas, with most coming from the High Plains region. Due to the harsh weather conditions of the region, most cotton on the High Plains is of more storm-proof varieties that are harvested using stripper harvesters. Unlike picker harvesters which use spindles to remove seed cotton from the boll, stripper harvesters use brushes and bats that indiscriminately remove seed cotton, bolls, leaves, and branches from the plant. As a result, stripper harvested cotton contains more foreign matter than picked cotton. Stripper harvesters have several advantages over picker harvesters, including lower purchase prices, fewer moving parts leading to lower fuel and maintenance requirements, and greater efficiency in low yielding cotton. Picker harvesters, however, pick cleaner cotton, are perceived to maintain fiber quality better than strippers, and are able to harvest at higher speeds in high yielding stands. As irrigation technology has improved and new varieties have been introduced on the High Plains, yields in the region have dramatically increased, sometimes reaching four bales/acre. Furthermore, foreign textile mills continue to raise their standards for fiber quality as cotton spinners are forced to compete with synthetic fibers. These increased yields and higher quality demands have the potential to make harvesting High Plains cotton with pickers an attractive option. The objective of this research is to compare the rate of harvest, harvest efficiency, fuel consumption, and turnout of irrigated cotton on the High Plains harvested using a spindle picker and a stripper harvester with and without a field cleaner. This data will eventually be combined with fiber and yarn quality data to perform a cost-benefit analysis to determine the feasibility of replacing stripper harvesters with picker harvesters on irrigated cotton on the High Plains of Texas.