Cotton Picking Time

The field across the road from us was planted in cotton this year. Sometimes it’s corn or milo, bur this year was cotton. To me, it’s. The worst crop, because it takes so many chemicals to grow, from fertilizers to herbicides to defoliants.

Cotton, plus the cotton-moving tractor

I had been enjoying the cotton the last couple of weeks, because it made the field look snowy. I also like when it’s blooming. Cotton blossoms are so pretty.

Cotton blossom, from a cotton festival page.

I’m usually at work when they do the harvesting of cotton, but since I’ve been at home this time, and my nerves make me go for a lot of walk, I had some good times observing the harvest.

The harvesters as seen from our property.

If you know all about that, well, ignore this post. But if you think of cotton as being the thing that you take off your nail polish with or that makes up your t-shirts, you might like to see what they do to get the cotton off the plants.

There were two huge harvesting machines that went up and down, picking the cotton and putting it in giant round bales. The machines separate the cotton in the bolls from the stems, but I don’t think it takes the seeds out. I think they go to a cotton gin for that.

The machine on the right is about to poop out a bale. That is not the technical term, I’m pretty sure.

The machines must be very persnickety, because the guys brought a special pickup truck with lots and lots of tools for making repairs. They stopped to work on them a lot. But they made lots of cool stripes of brown amid the white.

See how snowy the unharvested parts are?

Once the machines poop out all the bales, a regular tractor comes along and picks the bales up, lining them up on the edge of the field. That will make them easier to take away to wherever it is that they take cotton.

I think the bales are really pretty. I was amazed at how much cotton came out of that field! It’s not that big of a field, but there is lots of white stuff there now.

Partway through.

I like picking up bits that blow off and looking at it. I can see how people can spin it, when the seeds are removed. In any case, it’s sometimes fun to have a wee bit of agriculture to watch. This is the only cultivated field on our entire road! The rest is cow pasture, woods, or flood plain. And our lovely ranch houses, of course.

Cottony soft!

I also enjoyed the pretty skies yesterday when I took these pictures. It’s getting cloudy now. And today’s post-harvest work involved plowing in the plants, which has created clouds and clouds of dust. It was not fun to go shut the gate with that business going on. Now I know how the dust bowl happened, plowing in all this dry weather.

Thanks for bearing with me while I avoid ranting for another couple of days.

Author: Sue Ann (Suna) Kendall

The person behind The Hermits' Rest blog and many others. I'm a certified Texas Master Naturalist and love the nature of Milam County. I manage technical writers in Austin, help with Hearts Homes and Hands, a personal assistance service, in Cameron, and serve on three nonprofit boards. You may know me from La Leche League, knitting, iNaturalist, or Facebook. I'm interested in ALL of you!

6 thoughts on “Cotton Picking Time”

  1. My parents grew up picking cotton by hand. I remember their stories about it. Everyone in the family worked. Even five-year-olds had little sacks to fill. This was during the great depression. What a difference technology makes!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Thank you so much for telling about cotton and sharing photos. Historically enslaved people brought the cotton industry further west into Texas. the backbreaking labor in the heat is part of the energy of your state. I think of my New England relatives who only had linen and wool to spin for fabric in colonial times.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yep, nowadays the machines do the work, which is a good thing. They have air conditioning. My father-in-law, a poor German immigrant, picked cotton in south Texas every year of his life until he escaped and got a job at a chemical plants, which I guess was safer and easier. Reading the books on the Dust Bowl and such, it appeared that in much of Texas, everybody picked it after slavery was abolished.


      1. So much I don’t know. My husband, as a teen, picked tobacco in CT. Many don’t realize it is grown there. The CT River Valley is very humid in the summer. Now it is grown cheaper in Latin America. We grew the outer leaves of cigars. Thank you!

        Liked by 1 person

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