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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 #327972

Research Project: Enhancing the Profitability and Sustainability of Upland Cotton, Cottonseed, and Agricultural Byproducts through Improvements in Pre- and Post-Harvest Processing

Location: Cotton Production and Processing Research

Title: Harvesting

item Wanjura, John
item Baker, Kevin
item BARNES, EDWARD - Cotton, Inc

Submitted to: Journal of Cotton Science
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: 11/2/2016
Publication Date: 4/12/2017
Citation: Wanjura, J.D., Baker, K.D., Barnes, E.M. 2017. Harvesting. Journal of Cotton Science. 21:70-80.

Interpretive Summary: Successful production and harvesting of a cotton crop requires careful attention to detail at each step in the process. Growers should be vigilant to utilize cultivars and production practices that promote production of a uniform crop in regard to vegetative and reproductive growth. Moreover, use of appropriate crop termination techniques regarding irrigation termination, fertility management, and harvest-aid use will help to ensure optimum yields and fiber quality at the end of the season. Fundamental differences between the harvesting mechanisms used by spindle pickers and brush-roll strippers result in differences in harvesting efficiency, foreign matter content, and fiber quality which influence the economics of cotton production. Regardless of harvester type, careful attention to setup and maintenance is critical to achieving maximum harvesting efficiency and field productivity.

Technical Abstract: The spindle picker and brush-roll stripper are the two machines used to harvest cotton produced in the United States. Adoption of each harvester type is dictated by regional differences in regard to production environment, production practices, cultivar, and yield. The spindle picker is a selective-type harvester that harvests seed cotton only from well opened bolls collecting a minimal amount of undesirable foreign material with the seed cotton. The brush-roll stripper utilizes a non-selective harvesting mechanism to indiscriminately remove mature seed cotton, immature bolls, sticks, leaves, and any other vegetative material that is easily broken off the plant. Thus, fiber quality can be somewhat reduced for stripper harvested cotton because of the increased presence of immature fibers relative to picker harvested cotton. Spindle pickers are more mechanically complex than brush-roll strippers and require additional daily maintenance to ensure optimum performance. Considering conventional harvesters equipped with baskets, stripper type harvesters cost less to own and operate than spindle pickers resulting in lower harvesting costs. Regardless of harvester type, careful attention to setup and maintenance is required to achieve maximum harvesting efficiency, field productivity, and fiber quality.