Impact of Cotton Harvesting and Storage Methods on Seed and Fiber Quality
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There are currently two main types of machinery used for harvesting cotton in the United States, cotton pickers and cotton strippers with or without field cleaners. These different machine types package seed cotton with varying amounts of burrs, sticks, and leaves. Harvested cotton is placed in modules for storage prior to ginning. Recent developments in the industry include on-board module builders that package seed cotton as they harvest. This leads to three methods of storage: 1) traditional seed cotton modules, 2) half-modules, and 3) round modules utilized by harvesters with on-board module builders; all of these have different levels of packaging density. Cotton is harvested under widely varying conditions throughout the country and the moisture content of seed cotton at the point of containerization can be an important factor in the final quality of the crop. Seed cotton is being stored for increasing periods of time before being processed by cotton gins. The number of cotton gins in the U.S. has decreased while the production of cotton has increased. All cotton is harvested as it matures and the harvesting rate greatly exceeds the ginning rate. As a consequence of fewer gins, increased harvesting rates and increased quantities of cotton, the storage time of seed cotton prior to ginning has increased. It is hypothesized that the impact of varying densities, varying trash contents, and increased storage times prior to ginning is impacting the quality of the cotton lint and seed. The goal of this research is to quantify the impacts of these factors. The purpose of this research is to evaluate the effects of packaging seed cotton from any of the three different harvesting methods into varying types of storage as a function of differing moisture content and increased storage time. Results are indicated in terms of quality of both the fiber and the seed of ginned samples, as well as how the quality changes affect the value of the processed cotton. Samples of seed cotton are sealed in plastic containers for up to three months at varying levels of moisture, density, and trash content. Temperature and oxygen levels are monitored during storage. Samples are ginned and cottonseed and fiber are analyzed. The results of this research indicate that density does not affect the final quality of the lint and seed harvested. Increased moisture contents have a negative effect on both the quality and the value of the seed cotton, and this effect becomes more pronounced as the length of storage increases.
Hamann, Mark Thomas (2011). Impact of Cotton Harvesting and Storage Methods on Seed and Fiber Quality. Master's thesis, Texas A&M University. Available electronically from