Friday, October 19, 2012

Where our quilt cotton starts - in the cotton field

This past weekend, I got to ride on a cotton picker.  We have a  vacation home in Hyde County, NC and one of my husband's friends works for a cotton farmer.  They are picking cotton now and I got to ride in the picker. It was fascinating seeing where our quilt cotton comes from.  This cotton may show up in a quilt shop near you!

The picker uses a GPS system and is auto-driven down the rows.  The driver has to turn the picker around and get it lined up.  After that, it goes down the row using the GPS.  The computer system keeps track of how much cotton is picked in the rows.  The farmer can analyse the yield and then fertilize the next year based on the yield.  It is all very tech-savvy!

Here are the bales that are made in the machine.  They are 90 inches and when it gets to the proper size, the machine will wrap the bale in plastic and drop it in a holding area in the back of the picker. The next bale is started.  The bale in the holding area can then be dropped at the end of the row.  A guy with a tractor will pick it up and move it to an area where it will be taken to the cotton gin. 

Here are some pictures of the cotton fields and what the cotton looks like.  This is before the cotton boll breaks out of its shell.

 This is a picture of how the shell breaks open.  The fluffy cotton is in the middle.  The shells have to be taken out of the cotton as well as the seeds.  The next picture shows how some of the cotton explodes out of the shell. 

 Hope you enjoyed your tour of the cotton fields and the cotton picking process.   Eastern North Carolina is full of cotton now.  They will be picking for the next 4 - 5 weeks.  Think of those farmers when you are sewing on those 100% cotton quilts! 


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