Submitted to: Encyclopedia of Agricultural, Food, and Biological Engineering
Publication Type: Book / Chapter
Publication Acceptance Date: 2/9/2010
Publication Date: 9/28/2010
Citation: Funk, P.A. 2010. Thermal defoliation. In: Heldman, D.R., Moraru, C.I., editors. Encyclopedia of Agricultural, Food, and Biological Engineering. 2nd edition. Boca Raton, FL: CRC Press. p. 1671-1674.
Interpretive Summary: Thermal defoliation is defined, its development traced, and its current potential presented in this 1500 word encyclopedia article. The emphasis is on cotton, with an explanation of why defoliation in general is necessary. Historic patents are cited to show important technological advances. The benefits of defoliating by thermal means are summarized from the literature. Research and commercial applications of the technology are illustrated by original photographs. The purpose of the encyclopedia is not to present new research information but to describe new concepts with reference to the literature.
Technical Abstract: The negative perception some consumers hold regarding agricultural chemicals has resulted in an increased demand for organic foods and fibers, and in increasing political pressure for the regulation of agricultural production practices. This has revived interest in thermal defoliation of cotton and has resulted in prototype and commercial machines that improve on concepts first developed half a century ago. The present hot air devices resulted in defoliation rates approaching 80%, and up to 100% desiccation. They prepared cotton for harvest independent of weather, complied with organic production rules, eliminated insects responsible for cotton stickiness, facilitated early picking and extended the harvest window by two to three weeks.