Considerations for Picking
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Considerations for Picking


  • Develop a set of procedures to include the correct and safe operation of equipment.
  • Understand the picker’s operation manual and the basic safety procedures.
  • Establish procedures and picking patterns. Train and re-train all staff/contractors.
  • Maintain and clean equipment and drive to conditions i.e. picking in the dark and well as limit unnecessary traffic around pickers and module builders.
  • Emphasise ‘look up and live’ to avoid contact with overhead obstacles such as power lines, trees or sheds.


Picking while conditions are not ideal can lead to:

  • Seed quality issues.
  • Increased mechanical damage to the seed.
  • Cotton should not be harvested above 12% moisture. Green leaf and damp seed usually raise the moisture content with the rate of yellowing increases sharply at moisture levels above 13%. Cotton harvested above 16% will suffer losses even if ginned immediately.
  • Excessive green plant material can stain the cotton.
  • During ginning, it leads to increased gas usage, reduction in production, blockages and the possibility of fire.


  • Install moisture measuring equipment on the picker, or use handheld moisture meters. Remember to calibrate probes.
  • A hard seed when bitten indicates a brittle seed coat and moisture below 12%.
  • Collect cotton in the palm of your hand, squeeze into a ball and release, the moisture content is right if the seed cotton springs back to near its original size.

In terms of moisture, rainfall causes the following issues:

  • Enthusiasm to get into crops as soon as possible to harvest prior to further rainfall.
  • Coordinating picking schedules where many fields will be ready at once.
  • Raises moisture levels of the cotton lint.
  • Provides conditions where humidity will lead to the inset of dew mid evening.
  • Creates an environment where cotton regrowth will need to be managed.


  • Round modules are very compact and wrapped in plastic, limiting the evaporation of moisture.
  • The last round picked at night will have significantly higher moisture than those picked in the heat of the day.
  • A gap should be left between rounds to aid airing out.


  • The stripper is a non- selective harvester that uses brushes and bats to strip seed cotton from bolls.
  • Predominately used to harvest seed cotton from rain fed (dryland).
  • They remove not only the well opened bolls but also the cracked, immature, and unopened bolls, along with burrs (husks), plant sticks, bark and other foreign matter.


  • Setting up the picking unit correctly will assist in getting all the cotton off the bush. It is important to avoid:
  • Row units not centered on the row.
  • Picking before defoliation/maturity complete.
  • Picking when crop moisture is too high.
  • Compressor door tension and spindle tip clearance not adjusted properly.
  • Gaps in the plant stand while impact cotton movement through picker heads.
  • Poor doffer adjustment relative to spindle position.
  • Worn or dead spindles, spindle bushes or doffers.
  • Poor maintenance and servicing/cleaning.
  • Losses in handling systems.


  • Prevent/avoid or minimise the contamination entering the production process, particularly during growing, harvesting, and ginning.
  • All workers should be made aware of the consequences of contamination.
  • Ensure that the picker is set-up according to the operator’s manual and regular cleaning and servicing is conducted.
  • Use only trained and skillful drivers to operate pickers

© Cotton Seed Distributors Ltd 2022. General guide only; not comprehensive or specific technical advice. Circumstances vary from farm to farm. To the fullest extent permitted by law, CSD expressly disclaims all liability for any loss or damage arising from reliance upon any information, statement or opinion in this document or from any errors or omissions in this document. Roundup Ready Flex®, Roundup Ready®, Bollgard II® and Bollgard® 3 are registered trademarks of Monsanto Technologies LLC, used under licence by Monsanto Australia Ltd. Insect control technology incorporated into these seeds is commercialised under a licence from Syngenta Crop Protection AG. Sicot, Sicala, Siokra and Sipima cotton varieties are a result of a joint venture research program, Cotton Breeding Australia, conducted by CSIRO and Cotton Seed Distributors Ltd (CSD). CSD is a partner in the CottonInfo joint venture, in partnership with Cotton Research Development Corporation and Cotton Australia.