It’s everything a farmer can do to keep their harvest free and clear of contaminants and detractors that might lower its overall quality or make portions of it unsuitable for sale. For hay, moisture and UV bleaching can be major detractors; for corn it comes down to pestilence and drought; and for cotton it’s all about keeping debris out of the harvest itself.
Keeping debris out of your cotton crop means keeping it away from your cotton harvester, which ultimately means having a clean field. And while this is nearly impossible as the acreage of your land climbs, there are some things you can do to help keep the quality of your harvest high and, in turn, the quality of your crop yield near its maximum potential. Take a look at five of them:
- First and foremost, clean and thoroughly wash all of your cotton picking equipment and all machinery that’ll be used in the harvest. Debris from years past or simply contaminants that have piled up during the offseason will be the biggest detractors of your harvest—make sure they’re dealt with right from the get-go. Proper cleaning and maintenance of your harvester is also good for the machinery’s longevity.
- Create a watch list for known harvest contaminants that you may have previously spotted in your fields and be sure to have all eyes on alert to remove these things during the harvest. This can include things like plastic bags, organic debris and other items that have no business in your harvest.
- Inspect equipment between runs to make sure any hydraulic fluid or other lubrication isn’t leaking. Fluid leaks can quickly come into contact with cotton seed, leading to deterioration on a large scale! Worse yet, fluid leaks can create mechanical failures that lead to breakdowns, creating setbacks that complicate the harvest even further.
- When baling or building modules, do it in an area where they can quickly be covered or stored. Baling and transporting is a great way to expose large sums of your harvest to more contaminants! Baling smartly will not only keep formed modules safe, it’ll expedite the process.
- Harvest in optimal conditions whenever possible. Avoid high winds or blistering sunny days, where the elements could negatively impact your crop yields. Instead, try to do the bulk of your harvest on calm days with good cloud cover and no sign of inclement weather.
When it comes right down to it, the moment you fire up your cotton picker and head into the field, you’re making a run at your future profit—preserving as much of your crop as possible and ensuring its condition means putting money in your pocket! And, while you can’t save every cotton seed, you can follow the above tips and use best practices to minimize the overall loss of yield from external variables.