|Parnell Jr, C|
Submitted to: Applied Engineering in Agriculture
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: 5/5/2010
Publication Date: 7/1/2011
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: Fiber quality. Applied Engineering in Agriculture. 27(4):507-513. Interpretive Summary: Over the last ten years, new cotton varieties with improved yield and fiber quality have been introduced and widely adopted on the Texas High Plains. Producers in the region are now beginning to look to spindle type cotton pickers rather than brush-roll strippers to harvest the crops in an effort to better preserve the inherent quality of the fiber. This work represents the first multi-year study on determining the feasibility of implementing modern cotton pickers on the irrigated Texas High Plains from a holistic standpoint. This manuscript details the influence of harvest method on fiber quality between cotton harvested by a picker, a stripper with a field cleaner, and a stripper without a field cleaner. Data were collected from multiple locations over a three year period on harvester field efficiency, harvesting efficiency, fiber quality, yarn quality, and ownership and operating costs. High Volume Instrument and Advanced Fiber Information System analyses were used to quantify fiber quality differences by harvest method, location, and variety. Results indicate that differences existed predominately between locations and cultivars but differences by harvest method were observed as a function of fiber maturity. Fiber quality differences between picked and stripped cotton were more pronounced in years of poor maturity and less so in years of better maturity. These findings will benefit producers interested in switching to picker harvesters in order to improve returns through better fiber quality and increased harvesting field efficiency.
Technical Abstract: Picker and stripper harvest systems were evaluated on production-scale irrigated cotton on the High Plains of Texas over three harvest seasons. Observations on fiber quality using High Volume Instrument (HVI) and Advanced Fiber Information Systems (AFIS) were made on multiple cultivars harvested from six locations. When fibers were relatively immature, micronaire, length, and length uniformity as measured by HVI were better for picker harvested cotton than for stripped cotton leading to a higher loan value and average sale price for the producer. In cases where fibers were more mature, differences in fiber quality parameters between picked and stripped cottons were less pronounced leading to less discrepancy in the value of cotton harvested. However, differences in nep counts, short fiber content, and visible foreign matter between harvest treatments were still distinguishable. The results of this study indicate that producers may realize greater fiber quality and lint value by using picker harvesters, but the magnitude of those differences are a function of growing conditions and/or fiber maturity. Differences in cultivars also played a large role in determining fiber properties.