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ARS Home » Plains Area » Lubbock, Texas » Cropping Systems Research Laboratory » Cotton Production and Processing Research » Research » Publications at this Location » Publication #256475

Title: Harvesting to optimize fiber quality

item Wanjura, John
item KELLEY, M - Texas Agrilife Extension
item BOMAN, R - Texas Agrilife Extension
item Holt, Gregory

Submitted to: Transactions of the ASABE
Publication Type: Proceedings
Publication Acceptance Date: 8/11/2010
Publication Date: 8/11/2010
Citation: Wanjura, J.D., Kelley, M.S., Boman, R.K., Holt, G.A. 2010. Harvesting to optimize fiber quality. ASABE Technical Library. Paper No. 1009229. Available:

Interpretive Summary: Since 2008, Texas cotton production has accounted for almost 50% of the US crop. Production conditions for the Texas High Plains region, where most of the Texas crop is produced, can limit fiber maturity, resulting in fiber with elevated nep and short fiber content. Further, harvesting and ginning practices can increase nep and short fiber levels, resulting in reduced ring spinning performance. Research is needed that focuses on improved harvesting methods for preserving fiber quality from the field to the gin. Providing cleaner, higher quality seed cotton to the gin helps reduce ginning costs and increases producer revenue. Within-plant distributions of lint yield, quality, and value were developed from hand-harvested cotton samples at two sequential harvest dates. These distributions indicate that the fibers were quite mature and of high quality. Thus, minimal differences in value were observed for the crop by fruiting position. This work also investigated novel harvesting techniques using conventional harvesting equipment applied at different stages of final crop maturity to optimize fiber quality. Harvesting treatments included 1) spindle picker applied at 80% open bolls then again at 100% open bolls (pick then pick), 2) spindle picker applied at 80% open bolls followed by a brush-roll stripper at 100% open bolls (pick then strip), 3) spindle picker applied at 100% open bolls (conventional pick), and 4) a brush-roll stripper applied at 100% open bolls (conventional strip). Results indicate that non-color fiber quality parameters were improved for the initial picker harvest events conducted at 80% open bolls. However, economic comparison of the treatments indicated that the conventional pick treatment resulted in significantly higher net return than the pick then strip treatment. The conventional strip and pick then strip treatments were not different from any other treatments with regard to net income. Future studies will evaluate treatment effects on crops with less mature fiber.

Technical Abstract: Production conditions typical to the Texas High Plains region can produce cotton crops with high short fiber and nep content, both of which have a detrimental impact on ring spinning performance. Since Texas now produces over 50% of the U.S. cotton crop annually, it is critical that production and processing research focuses on finding ways to maximize fiber quality in order to improve the competitiveness of U.S. cotton on the world market. The objectives of this work are to 1) document the within-plant distribution of yield, fiber quality, and value for a well irrigated High Plains cotton crop, 2) investigate differences in fiber quality from cotton harvested with conventional equipment applied at different levels of final crop maturity, and 3) evaluate the economic feasibility of using new techniques with conventional harvesting equipment to maximize fiber quality. A box mapping procedure was used to collect hand harvested boll samples by fruiting position before machine harvesting was conducted at 80 and 100% open bolls. The data generated from the hand harvested samples indicated differences in the within-plant distributions of yield and fiber quality between harvest events and boll locations. However, all fibers evaluated were mature and of premium range HVI quality resulting in minimal within-plant loan value variation. Four machine harvesting treatments were investigated in this work: 1) picker harvest at 80% open bolls followed by a second picking at 100% open bolls, 2) picker harvest at 80% open bolls followed by stripper harvesting at 100% open bolls, 3) conventional picking, and 4) conventional stripping. A basic economic comparison of harvesting treatments indicated the highest net return for conventional picking.