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Saturday, November 7, 2015

Cotton Part 2: Hauling it to the Gin

Several weeks ago I posted an entry about harvesting cotton.  A college friend of mine grew up on a cotton farm just east of Lubbock, and he explained to me the differences in growing and harvesting cotton up in the South Plains versus here on the Gulf Coast.  He said harvested cotton up there is much dirtier than down here.  This picture from the 1950s shows why.  The lack of water means lots of bolls grow very low to the ground and become contaminated with soil.    Down here the plants grow taller with plenty of rain, so the bolls aren't nearly as close to the ground.
He also explained the 'evolution' of cotton hauling.  The photos I've shown in the past showed old-style wagons with sides made of wooden slats or chicken wire.  Here are two types of wagons; first, the old style with slats and then a more modern version with sturdy wire grating.  (The donkeys are my fiend's wife's pets.  I understand they live a life of luxury.)

Sometime in the late 1960s or early '70s gins and farmers began using 'rickers,' which produced ricks or compressed piles of cotton which were left in the fields.  These ricks were not tightly compressed or wrapped with a covering, so they were subject to damage by wind and rain. The gins sent mobile units that collected the ricked cotton and hauled it to the gin for processing.  I'm sure there are farms and gins who still use this technology.  Here are two photos of rickers.

Here are two photos I've posted in the past, showing cotton 'modules,' the newest technological advance.  The harvester compresses the cotton and puts a covering around it.  Notice they are rectangular cuboids, large rectangular blocks.  Gins have tilting flatbed trailers that can pick up these blocks and haul them to the gin.