Tips on Maximizing Cotton Picking Efficiency

Cotton picking equipment and techniques have come a long way in a short time, with annual innovations continuing to push the efficiency of harvests north of 95 percent on average. When you consider crop yields in terms of revenue, this is an astounding prospect for cotton farmers and one that rides very heavily on the overall efficiency of cotton pickers. Simply put: if a picker isn’t optimally functional, yield will suffer.

In order to maximize cotton picking efficiency, a tremendous amount of emphasis needs to be placed on the individual cotton picker parts themselves. With so many integral components to a cotton picker a compromise can occur virtually anywhere, at any stage of the picking process, driving inefficiency that is ultimately preventable with routine and regular maintenance.

Take a look at some of the breeding points for yield inefficiency as they pertain to a cotton harvester’s many points of interaction with the crop:

  • If the spindle tip clearance or picker head height is too high, you’re not going to have the seamless flow of stalks into the harvester, leaving margins for error and loss. Make sure to calibrate these things as a foremost approach.
  • Doffers and spindles need to be properly aligned to prevent loss during the transfer. If the relative position of your doffer is askew of your spindle, you’re likely to experience yield loss.
  • If the spindles themselves are worn, broken or damaged in any way, harvest rates will suffer. Spindles should be checked thoroughly before and after harvests, and replaced where needed.
  • Even spindles that are intact require cleaning to function at an optimal capacity. Plant buildups can cause a myriad of issues that impact efficiency at the point of harvest.
  • Moistening systems need to be checked and cleaned to ensure proper lubrication of spindles. Failure to maintain these parts can result in missed harvesting opportunities.

The maintenance of all the above components and beyond is essential in not only maintaining high crop yields, but in realizing the preventable loss that can be attributed to the harvester itself! According to independent studies done regarding harvester maintenance in relation to crop yield rates, it’s estimated that up to 20 percent harvest loss can occur on fields being harvested by improperly maintained pickers!

While harvest yield can also be affected by the status of the crops themselves and the current climate of the region, the impact of these variables pales in comparison to the effects of subpar cotton picker parts.

If your next harvest leaves behind traces of open bolls or you measure a drop in harvest efficiency, turn your attention to the maintenance of your cotton picker—namely the individual cotton picker parts that are responsible for ensuring the fluidity of your operation. Even if you’re diligent in your maintenance, it’s essential to inspect every component individually, as well as in relation to its peripheral components, to make sure that the system as a whole is optimized to perform at the highest possible levels.