When it comes to separating precious cotton fibers from the stalks they grow on, nothing beats the simplicity and effectiveness of a cotton harvester. But, in order to make sure you’re getting maximum harvest levels and quality cotton, it begs attention to invest in the right type of harvester. There are two schools of thought here: cotton strippers and cotton picker spindles. And while both are effective in aiding with cotton harvesting, they go about it with different technologies.
Named for the manner in which it literally strips cotton bolls from the stalk, a stripper is best utilized in situations where cotton crops are shorter, with shorter fibers.
Generally, a cotton stripper consists of two cylinders, each with alternating rows of hard rubberized bats and stiff wire brushes, which rotate to grab cotton stalks. As stalks pass between these cylinders, the entire cotton boll is separated from the stalk and harvested, whether it’s open or green!
Once removed, bolls are blown by a fan into a receiving basket—however because green bolls are heavier and contain more moisture, they’re segregated and relegated to be deposited on the underside of the harvester, since they’re not desirable.
Equipped with barbed spindles that literally detach bolls from the stalk, a cotton picker is also aptly named. In conjunction with a constantly moisturized pad, a picker is able to grab lint and remove it from the boll itself. The cycle is completed when the rotating spindle passes over the doffer—a device that wipes it clean and returns it to the front where it will pick another boll. From there, it’s all the same as the lint is blown into the basket, leaving behind the burr and the unused parts of the boll.
In general, pickers are preferred and ultimately work better when cotton has taller stalks and longer fibers, since the many rotating spindles will work to harvest at a quicker and more efficient rate.
So, the question becomes: which harvesting technology is appropriate for you? As mentioned, strippers and pickers tend to work better as the crop is taller or shorter, but aside from these variables there are a few factors to consider as well:
- Due to the way they operate, debris can play a roll in how effective a stripper or picker is. It takes proper cleaning and maintenance to ensure maximum picking efficiency.
- Spindles require replacement often, as they break and bend with constant harvesting; strippers require more cleaning than their counterpart, simply because of the wire brushing and the boll debris.
- It’s left to the eye of the beholder, but often pickers create quicker harvest times, since there’s less stoppage and more efficient harvesting for average stalk sizes.
When it all comes down to its, both strippers and pickers have their own place in the realm of modern cotton picking equipment—it’s up to the farmer to understand which will best serve their needs.