"Combining" Cotton --
A New Method Being Tried
Photo ©1997 by Rilla Cox. Used with permission.
This Case iH Ultra Narrow Row Harvester was being used by Randle Lemings and his sons to "pick" cotton at a local farm, in early November 1997. The cotton was planted with a wheat drill, not in the usual rows. This method was expected to increase production.

Photo ©1997 by Rilla Cox. Used with permission.
Max Clark, of Baker Implement Company of Malden was there to watch the "combining" operation. This photo clearly shows the rotary header.

Photo ©1997 by Rilla Cox. Used with permission.
The picked cotton is then dumped into a compactor, to make "modules."

Photo ©1997 by Hal Miller.
These cotton modules (not a part of the above experiment) are lined up alongside "J" Highway, awaiting transportation to a local cotton gin, or (sometimes) to barges on the Mississippi River.

Although the cotton stalks to the left of the module do not appear to have been picked, they have been. Although much faster, the modern mechanical cotton pickers do not do quite as "clean" a job as "human" cotton pickers used to do.

It is nearly impossible to hire anyone to pick cotton anymore -- the work is considered too difficult, and besides there is no longer any demand for that sort of work, with the mechanical cotton pickers around.

On my best day (around 1948, when I was 15), I picked 154 pounds of cotton, and was paid 2 cents per pound for it. Many workers could pick well over 300 pounds (some even more than 400 pounds) of cotton per day, but picking cotton was not my idea of having a good time.

(Lying back between the cotton rows on a full picksack of cotton, watching the white fluffy clouds float by overhead, was not so bad though, unless your father caught you!)

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Last photo taken with Sony Mavica® MVC-FD7.