How to Reduce Your Cotton Harvesting Losses

Every farmer understands that a certain percentage of crop yield is going to be lost for one reason or another. Perhaps there was damage to a section of land that caused crops to be lost? Maybe there was stunted or tainted growth that rendered some crops unsuitable for sale? Or, worst of all, perhaps a harvesting issue caused the crop to be unusable? While all of these are certainly a possibility, having to realize the losses that can come from harvesting issues is perhaps the most frustrating for farmers, simply because it can be avoided.

It’s estimated that about ten percent of a cotton harvesting crop is lost for one reason or another, with losses as high as 20 percent even tolerated based on overall crop conditions. But for a cotton farmer, these losses can add up quickly, forcing many farmers to take a step back and look at their crop in a different light. What could you be doing better? What circumstances need to be examined more closely to prevent climbing crop losses? Is there something you could be doing differently?

Generally, many farmers will overlook their equipment when it comes to asking questions, simply because it’s an accepted standard that the average functioning cotton picker can maintain about 95 percent efficiency overall, thus mitigating some of the loss responsibility. But, it’s when pickers start to fall short of their efficiency standards that some attention needs to be paid to the various cotton picker parts to ensure that there are no shortcomings that could potentially be avoided on the part of the farmer when it comes to crop yield optimization.

It may be surprising for many farmers to learn that losses attributed to cotton picking equipment and machinery can be cut to below five percent with the right maintenance and repairs, thus mitigating overall crop loss within circumstances that are controllable. But, it takes a diligent, knowledgeable farmer to recognize when certain cotton picker parts are failing or dropping below their accepted standards of efficiency.

Take a look at some of the simplest ways to ensure an optimally functioning cotton picker and some of the chief concerns that you should have about your machinery if it isn’t yielding the results that you’re used to:

  • Pickers should be checked annually for damage or wear to spindles, moistener pads, doffers, bearings and bushings. Damage or excessive wear and tear requires immediate replacement and could signal inefficiency overall.
  • The picker’s cam track should be checked for excessive wear—a worn cam track could incite premature failure of complementary picker parts. This is also a job that is generally far out of the capacity of the everyday farmer and should be undertaken by a professional at all times.
  • Proper lubrication of parts will stimulate better function and stave off premature wear that may compromise a picker.

While it’s acceptable for a small percentage of your cotton crop to be lost for one reason or another, what’s unacceptable is for your losses to come about as a result of machinery that isn’t performing to its highest level of efficiency and effectiveness. Make sure your cotton picker is primed and ready for the job ahead and see your loss minimized.