Cotton picking innovations continue to push crop yields upward, but harvesting efficiency can suffer if the individual picker parts that make up this equipment aren’t functioning optimally. In fact, it’s estimated that up to 20 percent of harvest loss can be attributed to improperly maintained harvesters.
Ensure that the spindle tip clearance and picker head height are properly calibrated in advance of harvest season by working with mechanical experts.
- Focus on Picker Performance
With global cotton production continuing to rise, the need for picker performance has also increased. Taking the right steps to improve your machine’s overall performance will result in better cotton quality, higher yields, and reduced power consumption.
Start by removing any large debris, such as twigs and branches. Next, blow away dust and small particles with an air compressor. This step will help reduce the risk of damage to your machine.
Clean the harvester heads and spindles thoroughly. This will prevent clogs and improve picking efficiency. Also, keep an eye out for signs of wear and tear on these components and replace them promptly. In addition, consider investing in an automatic lubrication system that handles greasing every point while your picker is in operation. This will save you hours of downtime due to forgotten lube points.
- Invest in the Right Picker
As agricultural technology continues to innovate, crop yields are increasing. This growth is driven by the ability of farmers to maximize harvest efficiency. However, this only happens when the equipment is optimally functional. For this reason, it is important for growers to work with a trusted purveyor of cotton picker parts to ensure the machine has everything it needs to achieve maximum yield. This includes ensuring the spindles and doffers are properly aligned, as misalignment can result in lost bolls during harvesting.
- Keep the Picker Clean
A dirty picker can lead to mechanical problems that reduce productivity and increase downtime. Proper cleaning can eliminate clogs, maintain airflow, and prevent other issues that can damage the machine.
If you notice smoke or a fire in the cotton picker, turn off the engine and immediately take steps to extinguish the fire. A fire in a picker can quickly spread, especially if the oil or fuel lines rupture, causing them to spray out hot, dangerous fluids.
Clean the picker thoroughly, following manufacturer-recommended procedures. A thorough cleaning each night and morning can encourage reliable daily performance and minimize potential fires. This process can be time-consuming, but the improved performance it encourages can save you money and headaches in the long run. Also, it can help improve cotton quality and prevent contamination from debris and other unwanted materials.
- Maintain the Picker
A picker that isn’t properly maintained is prone to breakdowns and other problems that can significantly reduce harvest efficiency. This includes picking fewer bolls and higher waste percentages than necessary, which means that you’re missing out on potential revenue.
After the fire has been extinguished, remove and clean any large debris from the machine. Then, thoroughly clean the machinery with an air compressor. This is the best way to remove cotton residue and plant material, preventing clogs that can impact machine performance.
Always check that the fuel and hydraulic lines aren’t leaking. Oil and fuel can rapidly accelerate a fire in the event that they rupture. Finally, be sure to store your picker correctly during the off-season. Keeping it covered and away from direct sunlight can help to prevent damage and prolong its lifespan.
- Maintain the Bolls
For cotton picker machines to work, mature cotton fiber must physically touch and adhere to the revolving spindles. This requires the spindles to be in good shape so they are sharp and clean of rust, dirt, and trash.
Row units are tilted somewhat to cause the lowest spindles in the bar to enter each plant at a low height. This minimizes the dragging of shedded leaves and plant debris by the row unit and increases picking efficiency.
Defoliating a crop before it is ready can lead to large yield losses. If a field has a normal boll load and a quick progression, it may be wise to avoid defoliating until late September or early October, depending on the weather. If this is not possible, harvest aids might be used to stimulate the bolls and speed up maturity (talk with your gin). These chemicals carry some risk of stain or trash damage to harvested fibers or trash.
- Make the Most of the Picker’s Reach
A high cotton-picking yield is heavily dependent on the efficiency of your picker’s reach. Ensure that your spindles are properly aligned and calibrated for the season and that your picker head height is adequate to harvest bolls with ease. This is particularly important for a crop that’s fruiting low. Consult with a cotton picker parts expert to ensure these critical components function properly.
Additionally, invest in a lubrication system that handles greasing every point while your picker is actively operating. This will save you hours of downtime that can result from forgetting to lubricate critical points. The system also maintains a constant barrier of grease at bushings to prevent dust and dirt from entering worn surfaces. This improves performance and extends the equipment’s life.
- Keep the Picker Moving
Keeping your cotton picker moving can greatly improve its efficiency. This is especially important for a high-yielding cotton crop.
The optimal picking position for a cotton picker is slightly tilted, allowing the lowest spindles in the bar to enter the plants at a lower height than the highest spindles in the bar. This minimizes the amount of time spent harvesting lint and plant debris from the bottom of the cabinet, helping to reduce waste percentage.
It’s also important to make sure the clearance between the spindles and doffers is properly calibrated. To do this, consult with a trusted supplier of cotton picker parts.