Cotton picker[Back to Contents]
The mechanical cotton picker is a machine that automates cotton harvesting in a way that reduces harvest time and maximizes efficiency.
History[Back to Contents]
Mechanical cotton picking began to be practical in 1943, when International Harvester produced the first dozen of their successful commercial cotton pickers.
There are two types of pickers in use today. One is the "stripper" picker, primarily found in use in Texas. They are also found in Arkansas. It removes not only the lint from the plant, but a fair deal of the plant matter as well (such as unopened bolls). Later, the plant matter is separated from the lint through a process dropping heavier matter before the lint makes it to the basket at the rear of the picker. The other type of picker is the "spindle" picker. It uses rows of barbed spindles that rotate at high speed and remove the seed-cotton from the plant.
The seed-cotton is then removed from the spindles by a counter-rotating doffer and is then blown up into the basket. Once the basket is full the picker dumps the seed-cotton into a "module builder". The module builder creates a compact "brick" of seed-cotton, weighing in at approximately 21,000 lb (16 un-ginned bales), which can be stored in the field or in the "gin yard" until it is ginned. Each ginned bale weighs roughly 480 lb (218.2 kg).
In c.2008 the Case IH Module Express 625 was designed in collaboration with ginners and growers to provide a cotton picker with the ability to build modules while harvesting the crop. An industry-exclusive on-board round module builder was offered by John Deere in 2007.