Sunday, January 25, 2015

Pickin' Cotton....A Little Differently

This was one of the posts I had planned to do back in the Fall. Back before Big Bertha, the red cotton picker, tried to kill my husband. For more info on that click here...We haven't been on speaking terms with Bertha since. Any who, I still wanted to share how she picked cotton, since it was very different than our usual method (right here).

Big Bertha was a Case IH625 Module Express Cotton Picker. This meant that as she was picking cotton, she was also making a cotton module in the picker basket.

Bertha came as a 6-row picker, but we are set up on 4-row, so two of her heads were removed.

A closer-up of the heads...

As the heads drive over the cotton stalks, columns of spindles, which are turning, grab the cotton. Plastic round doffers, doff, or remove the cotton from the spindles. The cotton is then blown up the pipes and into the picker basket behind the cab. (FYI: Water flows through moistener pads in the heads the entire picking time . Water helps the spindles grab the cotton better).
This is what the inside of the heads look like after it's been picking a while. You have to clean these out every so often with your hands. This was one of my many jobs during harvest. I didn't take this picture to share in this post, but saw it and thought it would help describe what I explained above. the picture from left to right...row of moistener pads (covered in wet goop in this picture), columns of spindles, and barely in the picture are the doffers.
You can see the cotton being blown into the basket in this video. That contraption going up and down is what makes this picker different than our others. As the cotton blows into the basket, augers turn to level out the cotton. They also pack the cotton. The point of this is to get as much cotton packed together as possible. Big Bertha could hold 6-7 bales of cotton (1 bale=490lbs).

Lance had monitors that let him know when the basket was full. There was also a video monitor, which showed inside the basket. When the picker was in reverse, it was a backup camera.

 I videoed the video monitor, heh.
Here's some videos of Big Bertha in action. She was huge compared to our normal cotton pickers. Some of you have probably wondered, why red? Well, Bertha may have been huge, but she still wasn't as huge or as heavy as the John Deere module building pickers. She could fit on our roads and in our fields around here.

She also could pick twice as fast as our regular pickers. She picked at a speedy 5 mph, while our older John Deere's were a pokey 2-3 mph.

So, we learned Big Bertha packed her own modules, but then what? If you remember my other cotton pickin' post or clicked the link above, when the regular pickers were full, they would have to drive to the module builder, dump the cotton into the builder, and it would have to be packed down. When it was ready, the module builder would be pulled forward, and a module would be left behind. Big Bertha eliminated all that. In this video, you can see a ramp coming down on the back...

The picker basket would then raise up and the module of cotton inside would be chained off. When it got to the end of the ramp, Lance would slowly pull forward and the module would be left in the field.
Tada! You still have to tarp it, but you saved a lot of labor/tractors in the fields by doing it this way. The modules made with a module builder and the other pickers are 32 ft long. These were half sized, at 16 ft. The module truck could carry two at a time when it needed to haul them to the gin.

This was our favorite sight during harvest. A completely harvested field, full of modules!


  1. beautiful I'm sure !!!!
    like a semi load of wheat or milo !!

  2. I love the videos. I've seen some cotton in Kansas before, but we just have mostly corn and soybeans in Iowa. Hope 2015 is a great year for your cotton crop.