As harvest technology progressed, the fall landscape changed with cotton trailers and trompers replaced by module builders and operators. To improve efficiency even further, two new harvesters that form modules on-the-go were introduced and are being embraced by more and more producers each year.
The John Deere harvester produces a round module that holds about one-fourth the seed cotton of a traditional module, and the Case IH harvester produces a rectangular module that holds close to half the seed cotton of the traditional module. The obvious upside for farmers, whether they go with the “green” or the “red” harvester, is the potential to reduce labor requirements during harvest.
Ed Barnes, Cotton Incorporated’s director of agricultural research, says, “In most parts of the Belt, producers tell me dependable seasonal labor is very difficult to find. In addition to verifying labor requirement reduction in several studies sponsored by Cotton Incorporated, we wanted to make sure the new packages do not pose any added risk to fiber quality relative to our current module building system.”
Manage Modules/Preserve Quality
Richard “Rick” Byler, with the Cotton Ginning Research Unit USDA-ARS in Stoneville, Miss., participated in a Cotton Incorporated study – The Effects of Three Module Types on Cotton Ginning and Fiber Quality – in which he observed fairly small differences in fiber quality among the different types of modules. In one gin in south Texas where it rained considerably, he did see some damage to the lint quality on the ends of the rectangular modules that weren’t covered as well as the round modules.
To help improve this situation, Byler says that it is important to pay attention to the quality of the rectangular module covers and don’t reuse ones that have been damaged by sunlight and wind over time.
“The wrapping for the round modules is not reusable,” Byler explains, “so it is an added expense. However, they are made from good quality plastic that covers the entire round part of the module and laps over the ends by several inches and fits tightly.”
Another management consideration to help preserve cotton quality in any of the three module systems is to make sure the modules – round or rectangular – are stored without touching.
“We recommend that the modules are stored with a few inches of space between them to provide an opportunity for air movement to help avoid moisture damage,” Byler says. “Be sure that the module truck driver is aware of how to unload them and doesn’t dump the modules out as tightly as he can where they end up touching in the module yard.”
The ginning researcher also points out that, based on data from the study, the newer module types do not present any significant problems in the ginning process itself.
Decreased Harvesting Costs
Tennessee private ginning consultant Bill Mayfield worked with Byler in the fall of 2008 by taking samples from the different types of module systems to test for quality. As Byler noted above, the data indicated fairly small differences in fiber quality among the three types of modules.
“We are seeing a trend of more farmers going to the round module (John Deere) and the half-sized module (Case IH) systems,” Mayfield says. “These pickers can stay on the row, harvesting cotton a higher percentage of the time, which results in a significant reduction in per acre harvesting cost.”
For more information about what was learned during the ginning and quality studies sponsored by Cotton Incorporated, visit the new Web site www.cottoninc.com/Cotton-Harvest-Systems/.
Contact Carroll Smith at (901) 767-4020 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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