Submitted to: World Cotton Research Conference Proceedings
Publication Type: Abstract Only
Publication Acceptance Date: 3/31/2016
Publication Date: 5/2/2016
Citation: Wanjura, J.D., Holt, G.A., Pelletier, M.G. 2016. Advancements in Cotton Harvesting Research. World Cotton Research Conference Proceedings. World Cotton Research Conference Presentation.
Technical Abstract: Cotton harvesting research within USDA ARS is focused on improving harvest productivity, cotton quality, and producer profitability. In recent years, our work has encompassed efforts to improve both spindle picker and brush-roll stripper harvesting systems. Specifically, work with cotton pickers in the Southern High Plains region of the U.S. investigated the application of spindle type harvesters in the traditionally stripper harvested area. New cultivars introduced in the region over the last 15 years have substantially improved yields and fiber quality of the crop. Thus, producers have become interested in identifying new harvesting and processing methods for maximizing the value of the crop. Results from this work indicate that fiber and yarn quality is improved for picker type harvesters but lower harvesting efficiency, relative to stripper harvesters, results in significant lint yield loss that cannot be overcome economically by fiber quality gains. Work with picker type harvesters is ongoing to address design deficiencies which limit their adoption in this region. Current research on improving brush-roll stripper harvester design is focused on minimizing the amount of undesirable vegetative material harvested with the cotton. Modifications to the stripper rolls have been investigated to document the influence of bat/brush sequence on foreign matter content. Previous research on lower yielding cotton with poorer fiber quality indicated that reducing the aggressiveness of the harvesting action by reducing the number of bats used and/or reducing the width of the bats reduces stick content as well as the incidence of bark contamination. Current research efforts on new high yielding cultivars indicate similar results but crop termination and weathering effects may play a more critical role with regard to bark contamination. Additional efforts are focused on improving the cleaning efficiency of onboard field cleaners. Cleaning performance gains have been observed for new grid bar configurations with optimized between-grid spacing around the primary and reclaiming saw cylinders. Additional gains in cleaning efficiency have been observed for cleaner configurations using grid bars with experimental cross-sectional geometry. Yield monitors are an essential tool in site specific management of cotton and can be a useful tool for on-farm research. However, reliable and frequent calibration is needed to ensure the production of accurate seed cotton yield maps, especially when varieties and crop/field conditions change. Calibration data can be costly and difficult to obtain when using mobile scale units for in-field calibration. Moreover, post-calibration techniques can be cumbersome in regard to obtaining and processing multiple gin scale tickets. Recently, a new system was developed by USDA ARS CPPRU for measuring seed cotton weight on the harvester. Information from this system can be used to calibrate yield monitors on the harvester without the need for mobile scales or post-harvest calibration techniques. This system can also be used as a stand-alone system for evaluating the effects of various cultivar, irrigation, fertility, or tillage treatments on seed cotton yield. The authors wish to gratefully acknowledge the financial support of Cotton Incorporated and John Deere in this research.