Like all crops, cotton must be harvested before further steps can be taken to prepare it for sale to consumers—this includes cleaning and packaging. First things first, once the cotton crop has grown to maturity, the cotton will need to be separated from its stalks. While cotton crops of the past were picked by hand, today’s cotton farmers are taking advantage of machine harvesters. A cotton harvester is a relatively simple and effective machine, but it’s important that you invest in the right type of harvester to ensure an excellent harvest and high quality cotton.
When researching cotton harvesters, you will notice that there are two good options on the market: cotton strippers and cotton picker spindles. Both are made to assist in the cotton harvesting process, although they each have their own methods of doing so.
So, if both cotton strippers and cotton picker spindles are used to harvest cotton, is there a difference between the two?
Just as the name suggests, a cotton picker basically picks the cotton. It picks the cotton from the bolls—which are the fluffy and round clumps of cotton you see growing on the plants—using revolving prongs or finger-like spindles. The burr and used parts of the boll are left behind. As harsh as the picker looks, it is able to pick cotton quickly and efficiently without causing damage to the plant parts or the unopened bolls.
Since mature cotton plants will continuously produce during the growing season, it’s typical to see a cotton picker running through the cotton fields more than once throughout the harvest months, but only if the bolls are ripe and ready to go.
Cotton stripper spindles
In contrast to cotton pickers, cotton strippers are harvest machines that are used once, and used in areas where certain weather conditions prevent repeat harvests. As you can imagine, this harvesting method is more invasive in comparison to picking cotton bolls only when they are ripe.
In the case of cotton strippers, these machines are designed to pull the entire boll, whether ripe or still growing, or the plant stalk is cut as close to the ground as possible. Yes, the entire stalk is taken along with the bolls. Then another machine works to remove the burr and any unwanted vegetation, which is everything but the cotton material. Though collected, the unripe green bolls are not kept. Instead, they are separated out of the harvest and sent to the underside of the harvester.
Modern cotton picking equipment makes harvest time a lot simpler. Ultimately, it’s up to you, the farmer, to choose a harvester that best suits your needs. Either type of machine will need regular care and maintenance to ensure maximum picking efficiency every harvest season. And since they are hard-working, you’ll need to plan ahead for replacement parts.
Make sure your cotton harvest goes smoothly with the help of cotton strippers or cotton picker spindles, as well as a stellar harvesting team. Contact us at Certi-Pik, USA to learn more about your cotton harvester options, and the cotton picker parts we offer!